Sado Island, Japan Cruise Port
Within the Sea of Japan is Japan's sixth largest island: the cruise port of Sado Island, Japan, located in the country’s Niigata Prefecture. The city itself takes up the entire island, although not all of it is inhabited, thanks to remote locations and two mountain ranges. Pottery artefacts that have been uncovered show humans existed here at least as far back as the Jomon period (roughly between 14,500 B.C. and 300 B.C.). Mainland Japan began to exert control over the island around the 8th century, which began to use Sado as a place of exile. This practice wasn't stopped until the year 1700. Since then, Sado turned to agriculture and fishing, with tourism starting to get popular in the 1990s, thanks to a rich history (including multiple temples and ruins), outdoor activities, and amazingly fresh food. Here are a handful of our favorite experiences when cruising to Sado Island, Japan:
The historic Sado Gold Mine was started in 1601 during the Edo era, when gold was discovered at Aikawa (on the island's west side). The mine stayed in operation until 1989. Here you'll visit the two mine shafts where the exiles and the homeless searched for gold. There’s also a museum that displays some fascinating artefacts from this centuries-long operation.
Toki-no-mori Park is the place to see and learn about the rare bird called Japanese crested ibis, or toki. At one point thought to be extinct, the bird was rediscovered; the park's Convention Center focuses on breeding the birds, with increasingly successful results.
In the southwest part of the island is the culturally striking Shukunegi village. Developed as a home to shipbuilders, the theme of the town took on a distinctly marine flavor. Keep an eye out for the decorated manhole covers and the charming homes that actually resemble boats.
On this island full of temples, one to visit is the five-story Myosen-ji Temple near Mano Bay, which took 30 years and two generations of carpenters to complete. There is a lovely garden and a tall memorial to the Japanese Buddhist priest called Nichiren are nearby.