Just like Laputa: Castle in the Sky! The magnificent scenery of Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture

Just like Laputa: Castle in the Sky! The magnificent scenery of Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture
Sado Island is an island in the Japan Sea off the coast of western Niigata Prefecture. At approx. 855km2, Sado Island is the largest isolated island in the Japan Sea, and around 1.5 times larger than all the 23 wards of Tokyo combined.
This island is well-known for its Sado Kinzan Gold Mine, the Japanese crested ibis, and its gourmet cuisine such as Sado Beef and local seafood. It is less well-known; however, that Sado Island is also actually home to a treasure trove of fantastic scenery!
Allow this article to introduce the top 6 of these beautiful Sado Island sceneries.
▼Please click here to find out how to get to Sado Island.

1. Kitazawa Fuyusenkojo Remains

Kitazawa Fuyusenkojo Remains

|Nostalgic industrial ruins just like that from the world of Laputa!

The Ghibli movie; “Laputa: Castle in the Sky” creates a lot of talk whenever it is broadcast on TV. Did you know that a visit to these industry ruins of Sado Island feels like you have wound up in the middle of the set of this film?

Kitazawa Fuyusenkojo Remains; located 7-minutes away from Sado Kinzan Gold Mine by car, was once the biggest excavator of gold and silver in the east.The way the green ivy entangles itself around this large, crumbling concrete building really does make it look like it came straight out of the Laputa movie!
Kitazawa Fuyusenkojo Remains
Large buildings are dotted all around the terraces of the site, with the “Thickener” facility; where water and minerals were separated, having a diameter of 50m. This facility resembles that of the Colosseum in Ancient Rome.
Kitazawa Fuyusenkojo Remains
The remains are illuminated between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm during the tourist season.
These colourful lights, combined with the magnificent stars of the sky and the refreshing sounds of various insects, feels like a fairy-tale.
Please note that it is strongly recommended to bring a flashlight with you during your visit due to the fact that the area is solely lit up by the illuminations at night.
【Address】3-2, Aikawakitazawamachi, Sado City, Niigata Prefecture
【Opening Times】Free to wander around at all times
【Access】Approx. 50-minutes by car from Ryotsu Port

2. The Tub Boats of Yajima / Kyojima

The Tub Boats of Yajima / Kyojima

|Float down this picture postcard-like beautiful cove in a tub boat!

Yajima and Kyojima are both islands situated in the coves of the Ogi region, southern Sado Island.
A red arched bridge connects the two islands like a picturesque miniature garden. Why not board a tub boat rowed by women in braided kasuri costumes at this beautiful cove?
The Tub Boats of Yajima / Kyojima
The tub boats look like they have just come from the Ghibli movie; “Spirited Away”! Board one for yourself and enjoy the cove to the full.
The emerald green sea water in this area is highly transparent. The tub boats take full advantage of this by having a box in the middle whereby those on board can see fish swimming below.
The Tub Boats of Yajima / Kyojima
It is also possible for visitors to cross the red arched bridge via the promenade. Seeing the tub boats floating in the cove from the very top of the bridge is highly recommended.

3. Shukunegi


| Crowded with unique architecture! Walking around this maze-like ship-making town

Shukunegi; located at the southern tip of Sado Island, leapt into the limelight after Sayuri Yoshinaga appeared in a JR East commercial here.
This town flourished due to the Kitamae-bune ships (cargo ships that sailed the Japan Sea from the Edo period (1603-1868) to around the Meiji period (1868-1912)) which stopped in this town alongside other small cargo vessels and ship-making professionals.

Over 100 traditional buildings still stand side by side here today, and is thus designated an important preservation district of historic buildings.
Those who walk around these buildings will no doubt come to realise that they are predominately all 2-storey buildings. The unique architecture of Shukunegi is designed as such to ensure the most is made of the narrow area.
Stone-weighed Roofs are also common in this area due to the strong winds which can blow in from the Japan Sea. In order to withstand these winds, the roofs in the area are made with numerous layers of thin planks of wood and stones piled on top of them.
“Saya” (vertical cedar planks of wood surrounding a house) are also characteristic of the architectural style of Shukunegi, which; when all combined together, produce a truly beautiful landscape.

4. Manjojiki


|This photogenic “sky mirror” changes its appearance every single second! It really is the Uyuni Salt Lake of Japan!

The highly scenic spot of Manjojiki is located off the coast of the Ogi Peninsula.This tide pool; which can only be seen just before low tide, beautifully reflects the sky just like that of the famous Uyuni Salt Lake in Bolivia.
Visiting on a day which doesn’t have any wind is highly recommended so that the clouds can clearly be seen. Clear days are also highly recommended for those who wish to capture the orange tints of the sunset on film. The lake is also worth seeing at night when the starry sky gets mystically reflected on the surface of the water.
【Address】Sawazaki, Sado City, Niigata Prefecture
【Opening Times】 Free to wander around at all times
【Access】Approx. 20-minutes by car from Ogi Port

5. The Pot Holes of Hiranezaki

The Pot Holes of Hiranezaki

|Enjoy the natural form and hot spring diving at the largest pot holes in Japan!

The pot holes of Hiranezaki extend over around 500m of bedrock which has been eroded by vortex seawater. Designated as a national natural treasure, they are also the largest pot holes in Japan.

Some of the largest pot holes have diameters of over 2m and depths of around 3m. Come here to experience first-hand the amazing power of the rough Japan Sea!
The Pot Holes of Hiranezaki
What’s more is that hot spring waters with a temperature of over 80℃ also gush up from the Hiranezaki sea bed. It is thus also popular among divers as a hot spring diving area. Divers can enjoy making onsen tamago (boiled eggs cooked via the hot spring water) in the spout holes.
【Address】1465, Tochu, Sado City, Niigata Prefecture
【Opening Times】 Free to wander around at all times
【Access】Approx. 70-minutes by car from Ryotsu Port

6. The Amur Day Lilies of Onogame

The Amur Day Lilies of Onogame

| This lily colony has even been listed in the Michelin Green Guide Japan!

Onogame is a huge rock shaped like a turtle protruding out into the Japan Sea coast on the northern tip of Sado Island. This monolith has an elevation of 167m, and has been awarded with 2-stars by the Michelin Green Guide Japan as the most beautiful spot of Sado Island.

Onogame is well-known for having the largest amur day lily (Tobishima Kanzo) colony in Japan. Around 1-million amur day lilies decorate the area from late-May to mid-June (approx. 500,000 different types). The vivid yellows of the flowers, lush greens of the grass, and beautiful blues of the sky will no doubt take your breath away.
The Amur Day Lilies of Onogame
Amur day lilies; a member of the lily family, is a rare flower which only blooms on Sado Island and Tobishima Island, located off the coast of Sakata City, Yamagata Prefecture. These flowers are commonly referred to as “Yorame” in Sado Island, meaning “A pregnant fish”. This name comes from a legend suggesting that if these flowers bloom, then the “Sea will come back from the dead, and the fish will also be revived”.

This legend encouraged locals to lovingly protect and guard this part of the island. The Sado Kanzo Festival is held here every year on the second Sunday of June. Various forms of traditional culture; such as bonfires, onidaiko drums, and traditional Sado folk songs can be enjoyed here on the eve of the festival.
【Best Season】 Late-May to early-June
【Address】Negai, Sado City, Niigata Prefecture
【Opening Times】Free to wander around at all times
【Access】55-minutes by car from Ryotsu Port
The final part of this article will inform you of how to get to Sado Island.

How to get to Sado Island

How to get to Sado Island
▲ The Sado Jetfoil ferry
Sado Island is accessible by both ferry and high-speed ferry from 3 different ports.Niigata Port is probably the most convenient port to head to if coming from places like Tokyo or Osaka.
Niigata Port is located 25-minutes away by bus from Niigata Airport, or 15-minutes away from JR Niigata Station. It takes 2-hours and 30-minutes to get to Sado Island from Niigata Port by ferry, or 1-hour by Jetfoil high-speed ferry. The quickest way to get to Sado Island from Tokyo will take around 4-hours.
So, what do you think of the beautiful landscapes introduced in this article?
All of the locations mentioned in this article can only be experienced in Sado Island. The peak tourist season in Sado Island is from early-summer to fall. Don’t miss out on your chance to experience it for yourself!

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