3 Historic Sado Sightseeing Spots

by Luke - TripleLights travel specialist

If you are exploring the island of Sado, and want to discover a little more about its history during your trip to Japan, then Seisui-ji Temple, Sado's oldest temple, would be a good place to start. Also, check out the Edo style houses of Shukunegi along the bay, and explore the famous five-storey pagoda of Myosen-ji. Here are the three best historical sights of Sado:

Seisui-ji Temple

Seisui-ji Temple which was established in 808 is Sado’s oldest temple of note which has existed since the Heian Era. At the time, Emperor Kammu, who deeply worshiped the Thousand-Armed Kannon which was the principal image enshrined at Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto, took into consideration the people of Sado who couldn’t make the trip to Kyoto to pray there and started the building of a temple which resembled Kiyomizu-dera. A Buddhist monk who had been searching for the appropriate location for the temple to be built nearby on the island discovered something shining in a flowing river and found the river’s source which would become the area where the temple would be built. The kanji for both Kiyomizu-dera and Seisui-ji 「清水寺」 are identical with the former being the name for the temple in Kyoto while the latter would identify the Sado temple. Although small compared to Kiyomizu-dera, the main hall of Guze-den which was built to resemble the Kyoto temple is a beautiful structure filled with dignity and character to evoke the image of a forest sanctuary. There is a wonderful view to be seen from the hall and the murmuring of the sacred river echoes within the tranquility of the area.

Seisui-ji Temple which stands on a slope of a small mountainous hill surrounded by countryside and rice paddies has an attractive unique mysticism which melds nature and the cultural properties. All of the properties have been registered as civic cultural assets and include the profound Niomon Gate which greets visitors to the temple, the luxuriant sando path lined with cedar trees that are several hundred years old, the Chuumon Gate leading to the wide front garden, the bell tower and Guze-den Hall. As well, you can also view valuable buildings on the grounds such as the beautiful plaster scripture house with the dragon carving and the lecture hall. Since its foundation in 808, these cultural properties were repeatedly rebuilt once every 200 years and preserved. The current buildings were rebuilt in 1730 as mid-Edo Era structures.

Admission: Free

Guidebook from Planetyze about Seisui-ji Temple
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Seisui-ji Temple
Tours of Seisui-ji Temple

Myosen-ji Temple

Myosen-ji’s five-story pagoda was built in the latter half of the Edo Era and is one of only 22 such precious structures to survive in the country. This pagoda was completed in 30 years by father-and-son temple carpenters from the Mozaemon family. At a height of 24.11m with each side measuring 3.6m, this Edo Era pagoda is notable for every floor from bottom to top basically having the same dimensions with a beautiful carving of an elaborately-designed dragon’s head. It is believed that the pagoda was built to resemble a similar splendid structure in Tosho-gu Shrine in Nikko, and has been designated as a National Important Cultural Property.

Besides the five-story pagoda, there are many valuable cultural properties surviving within the temple grounds. Numerous beautiful examples of architecture which should be seen abound such as the oldest structure in the temple, the Niomon Gate built in 1677; the largest building on Sado Island, the Hondo main hall; the splendid Kuri temple kitchen with its 15.5m pillars; and the beautiful Soshi-do Hall with its connecting arched passageway. In the Japanese garden pond, there are summer blossoms of water lily which bring color to the peaceful temple.

In the cemetery behind the Hozo repository, the gravestones that dot the gentle slope seem to melt into the scenery of the surrounding cedar forest. The graves of famous figures in the history of Sado Island can be seen here with the oldest being the grave for the founder of Myosen-ji, Abutsubonittoku Shonin. Initially serving under Emperor Juntoku, he had been exiled along with the emperor to Sado Island where he continued to serve him until the emperor’s death after which he became a Buddhist monk and subsequently served as an apprentice under the Nichiren monks who had also been exiled to Sado. Furthermore, you can also view the grave of Suketomo Hino, the chief retainer of Emperor Daigo, who was also exiled to the island for planning the overthrow of the Kamakura shogunate.

Admission: Free

Guidebook from Planetyze about Myosen-ji Temple
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Myosen-ji Temple
Tours of Myosen-ji Temple

Shukunegi 

Developed in the Edo Era as a port of call for the shipping industry moving commodities and linking the island with the capital, Shukunegi, which was at the height of its prosperity, has retained its original appearance of a community that had been built by people in the shipping industry. In one corner of the bay, more than 100 buildings were established in dense formation with a distinct landscape of narrow alleys and stone paving, and the scenery of outside walls built from wooden boarding has been retained. That exterior can be seen as being quite simple. However, the interiors are deeply interesting for their luxurious construction which brings to mind the lifestyle of well-to-do people due to the shipping industry through examples such as black-lacquered central pillars, sculpted Buddhist altars and chests of trick construction to store money and other valuable items. The streets filled with the houses and structures built by shipwrights have been designated as an Important Preservation District of Historic Buildings by the nation and have been tended to as a town property relating the valuable history of Sado.

Within the preservation district of Shukunegi, currently 2 private houses have been opened to the general public (admission required). One house, Seikurou House, is a 200-year-old residence. The simple boarded exterior gives way to unbelievably beautiful rooms of lacquered cedar doors, Japanese zelkova floors, hearths that bespeak of the old houses, high open ceilings and other features of an old Japanese home which has been lovingly preserved as if time had stopped. Also, there are many other sights to see on the old streets such as the other open private house, Kaneko House, Sankaku-no-Ie (Triangle House) which was built to fit in with the shape of a corner lot alleyway and the old-fashioned Yosute Lane.

Admission: Various

Guidebook from Planetyze about Shukunegi 
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Shukunegi 
Tours of Shukunegi

Need help planning your trip to Kyoto ?

If you are interested to know more and save your time during your trip to Kyoto, You can send a message to our local guides to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience.

In the TripleLights website you can find the best professional guides all over Japan to help you plan your trip. Check our local guides for Kyoto


24 Nov 2015

Plan your trip to Kyoto

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started

Recent Tour Reviews in Kyoto

“ Kyoto in 7 hours. ”

Excellent
8 hours ago Traveler: Jeffrey -   Tour Guide: MAKOTO

Mak was great - we saw the Nijo-Jo castle and the Golden Pavilion and 2 other wonderful sites. We ate an authentic Japanese lunch and we even had green tea ice cream. Mak is knowledgeable and communicates well. WE glided about the city in cabs and even took the metro. I would use Mak again and will recommend him to any of my friends who travel to Japan.
read more

“ Satisfied! ”

Excellent
14 hours ago Traveler: BoonKiat -   Tour Guide: Moe

She is knowledgeable and know-how and where to go in Kyoto! My group had an enjoyable time with her
read more

“ Amazing kyoto guide ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Divya -   Tour Guide: Koichi

When we initially met Koichi, he was just a guide. By the time we left Kyoto, he was a family member. Koichi is a kind, generous, and hospitable man who sees guiding as his calling. He met us at Ippudo and then we toured Western Kyoto (Arashiyama bamboo forest, monkey park, and boating on the Hozugawa river). I was struck by his genuine kindness. For example, when I mentioned I was afraid to f...
read more

“ Lucky if you Have her! ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Camilla -   Tour Guide: Lisa

Lisa was absolutly amazing, kind, easygoing, and so good with all the rich information about the coulture and history. We were so lucky to Have her in Kyoto! We wanted to keep her for at least two more days! Took us to an excellent restaurant and gave us so many tips about everything. We are grateful! Thank you Lisa!!!
read more

“ Great day in Kyoto ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Deborah -   Tour Guide: Toshi

We thoroughly enjoyed our day with Toshi in Kyoto. I sent him a list of the places we were hoping to visit and he arranged an itinerary to fit. He was able to also fit in some places we would not have thought to visit, like the Okochi Sanso garden, which was one of the highlights of the day.
read more

“ Highlight of our trip!!! ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Maria -   Tour Guide: Toshiyo

Toshiyo was patient, very knowledgeable, kind, friendly, and considerate. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! We had about 8 main must see places on our list and we saw all, but 1 because of the time constraint (we arrived late from Tokyo). With the complex and multiple modes of transportation between the places we wanted to see, we would’ve never been able to accomplish this without her! It was a particularl...
read more

“ Couldn't ask for a more qualified guide! ”

Excellent
2 days ago Traveler: Linda -   Tour Guide: Hiroko

Hiroko and I had been communicating through Triple Lights for a few months before my trip. I took the Shinkansen from Kobe to Kyoto, and recognized Hiroko right away. It was like seeing a long-lost friend! She is warm, generous, speaks perfect English and loves to smile and share her love for Japan. We went to the Torii Gates, to the Kennin-ji temple, the oldest Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, w...
read more

“ One day tour of Kyoto ”

Very Good
2 days ago Traveler: Reenu -   Tour Guide: Mari

Mari was excellent! She was timely and organized and did her best to show us all the sites in Kyoto in one day (9 hours). She was excellent with her communication and provided insight into the sites we were visiting. I really liked the fact that she wanted to make sure everyone was having a good time. The only thing I would recommend for anyone traveling is perhaps limit the number of sites you ar...
read more

“ Great day ”

Very Good
3 days ago Traveler: James -   Tour Guide: Richard

Richard is friendly, helpful to our needs. Know the places inside out. Give good ideas to us where to go and do . Thank you.
read more

“ Wonderful one day trip to Kyoto from Tokyo covering our favorite locations. ”

Excellent
3 days ago Traveler: Jean -   Tour Guide: Yuki

We had an amazing day with Mr. Yuki visiting Koyto with specific three locations listed on his guide. We told him what we wanted to see and he planned out the day out perfectly and seamlessLy. He was kind and patience with us since we only had one day to spend in Kyoto. We could not have asked for a better experience. He was very knowledgeable and thorough with the sights went to. Cannot wait to c...
read more

Related cities

Plan your trip to Kyoto

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started