Where is Sado Island? Worth visiting?

A little smaller than Tokyo’s 23 wards

“Where is sado island?”

This is the question I’m always asked when I tell my hometown to other people.

Well, let me tell you a little bit about the island of Sado a little bit.

Map of sado island japan


Basic information about Sado Island

Sado island is in the north of Japan and 32 kilometers away from mainland of Japan.

It’s 2nd largest island after Okinawa as an off shore island and part of Niigata prefecture in Japan.

It’s said that the island was raised above sea level about 3 million years ago, and people have lived here for more than 10,000 years.

The island is shaped like alphabet “S”, so easy to remember.

It has an area of 855 square kilometers, and the circumstance is about 280 kilometers.

Sea kayaking in Senkaku Bay

Take a boat tour around the scenic Senkaku Bay to see sheer rocky cliffs

The population of sado island is about 55,000 as of Oct 2018.

The hightest mountain is Mt. Kinpoku and the height is 1,172m.

It’s covering point of both of warm & cold currents, and it makes this place unique to have plants & creatures of both northern and southern Japan.

Isn’t that cool to be able to see plants & creatures that live in Okinawa and Hokkaido in one place?

The whole island can be divied into 3 parts according to the geographical features.

Taraiboat ride in beautiful spot

One day trip to Onogame

3 areas
The north part: it has a coastline of 50 kilometers with cliffs, gigantic rocks and odd rocks
The middle part: there are many rolling hills and we can see a variety of seasonal fruits
The south part: there are many rivers, and the largest lake in Niigata prefecture “Lake Kamo” is here!

As I explained above, Sado is like a Japan in miniature, and we can enjoy nature in the north and south ares of Japan on one island.

Even fruits are no exception, we have apples, grapes, pears grow ripe in north and peaches, persimmons, kiwis, figs, oranges, loquats, melon etc. almost all fruits in Japan.

So, it’s a paradise for fruits loves!

Of course, fresh seafoods are waiting for you too.

Sushi Restaurant around port

The Best Sushi restaurant “Cho-zaburou”

Origin of the name of “SADO”

Some people might be interested in origin of the name of Sado.

There are several views on the origin of the name as below:

1. Sado island has many narrow channels, and the name originated from “Seto” which means narrow channels.

2. It’s said that Sado Island is worth coming 3 times in your life times, so people put name “Sando” which means “3 times” in Japanese and it eventually changed to “Sado”.

In Japan, people call either “Sado”, “Sado-shima” or “Sado-ga-shima”.


History of sado island

In the early 17th century, Sado island was known as an island with one of the great mines in the world.

Japanese government developed the gold mine, and gold produced in the island financially supported the Japanese government until 19th century.

After the gold mine fell into a decline, the government started controling and maintaining the forest and agricultural land to ensure the materials.

As the result, Sado island became the last place where internationally protected toki birds, crested ibis, lived.

Historical Shukunegi in Ogi

Seisuiji temple in SADO Island

Gold Mine history of sado island

Feel history of sado island


Is it worth visiting?

To visit Sado Island, it takes at least 3 hours and half from Tokyo and 2 hours from Osaka.

It’s not too far but it might be quite a trip for some people.

If I’m asked this question, I would answer “Yes, especially if you love nature and good foods”.

Shining golden ears of rice plant in Sep

Geographically speaking, Sado is a very unique place to have features both of northen and southern parts of Japan.

It’s good for natural lovers too.

Sunset sights in mother nature

Sunflower Field in Aikawa

Sea kayaking in Senkaku Bay

For example, I can go to beach in 1min and to the mountain in 5mins from my house.

All places are surrounded by nature, and it would be nice to put ourselves in the middle of Mother Nature sometimes.

Wake up with beautiful morning sunshine and sleep with the chirping of insects under a star‐studded sky.

Garden-fresh vegetables and fruits and freshly caught seafoods make us happy. 🙂

I’ve traveled all over the world, but still I think the seafoods in Sado Island are the best!!