Sado Island   佐渡島

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Land of Gold and Exile

The history of Sado Island, north of Nagano, is one of both a land of exile and the gold rush. Today, it is primarily a destination for seasoned hikers and a center of taiko drumming.

Sado-ga-shima, the sixth largest island in the archipelago, is among the most popular destinations in the Tohoku region.

Between the resort of Ryotsu, the wild coasts of Senkaku Bay, and the stunning views from Mount Donden, the entire island seems to be an invitation to relaxation.

It also retains traces of a rich and extraordinary past that has completely transformed its landscapes.

A former land of refuge for intellectual outcasts during the feudal period (1185-1600), the island retains the imprint of this aristocratic presence: a strong passion for Noh theater, introduced by actor Zeami Motokiyo during his exile.

In 1601, an event forever changed the destiny of Sado-ga-shima: the discovery of gold! It transformed the little village of Aikawa into a city of 100,000 inhabitants. Gold mining quickly became the main activity of the island.

Today the Aikawa Folk Museum, and a visit to Sado Mine give us an overview of the gold rush through reconstructions and items related to the exploitation of the precious metal.

In the third week of August, the small island holds the Earth Celebration. On this occasion, the internationally acclaimed Kodo troupe pound the taiko (Japanese drums) and enliven the festival. Their fame is now so great that you have to book months in advance to attend!


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