Looking to be entertained during your adventures in Sado? Check out Nishimikawa Gold Park for a hands on experience at gold panning. Explore Toki Forest Park and catch a glimpse of one of the rare birds. Watch a performance of Noh, a traditional Japanese stage play. And wash down the day with a delicious beverage at the Obata Sake Brewery:
Sado Nishimikawa Gold Park
The existence of Sado’s Nishimikawa Gold Mine has been known since the Heian Era. However true development of the mine didn’t start until around the year 1460 at the beginning of the Sengoku (Warring States) Era, after which any gold found from the sand was placed into the war chest of subsequent commanders among other uses and became a major source of currency on the island. Although the heyday of the 16th to 17th centuries saw the largest output from the Nishimikawa mine, that output gradually started waning until the mine finally closed down in 1872. Since the gold-panning method used needed a large amount of water, large-scale canals were built in the surrounding area. Even now, there are 12km worth of remaining canals. This gold-panning is thought to be the oldest method in Japan, and at the time, mountains were undercut and the soil and rock which held the gold dust were washed through the valley river which made for a dynamic process. Currently, at Nishimikawa Gold Park, you can try out this gold-panning process.
There are exhibition galleries and video rooms at Sado Nishimikawa Gold Park, with information on gold and gold-panning available and learning about gold is possible. But the most popular attraction is undoubtedly the gold-panning. Actual Nishimikawa sand is used for courses which are divided into levels of ability. There is the beginners’ course where you can enjoy searching for gold dust by washing the sand through a sieve-like pan, the intermediate course where the sand is washed through a man-made river and then the advanced course where the sand is washed through a real river. The gold dust that you can find can then be made into accessories which you can take home as a memento.
Admission: Adult ¥ 800 / Child ¥ 700
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Sado Nishimikawa Gold Park
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Sado Nishimikawa Gold Park
- Tours of Sado Nishimikawa Gold Park
Toki Forest Park
At Toki Forest Park, you can observe the rare toki whose numbers have been greatly reduced. In the Toki Materials Exhibition Hall, there is information displayed on matters such as knowledge, understanding, conservation and breeding on toki via panels, video and sound. In addition to stuffed and skeletal models of the bird, initiatives such as increased protection and returning the toki to the wild are also introduced. You can also view the stuffed model of Kin, the ibis which had been the last of its kind in the country.
The toki, which had once lived everywhere in Japan, went extinct in 2003 due to changes in its natural habitat from overfishing and the modernization of agriculture. However, at the Sado Toki Conservation Center which is located next to the park, there was successful breeding of an identical species of toki which had been donated as a gift from China. In fact, it was so successful that the birds have been released into the wild. Through old farming methods and natural conservation efforts on Sado Island which has been designated as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System in one of only 31 nations as of 2015 to have been designated as such, the toki have returned to the skies of Japan. The Sado Toki Conservation Center can be viewed beyond the glass of the observation gallery. Adorable toki chicks can be seen inside their cages where they are carefully raised.
Within the huge cage where toki have plenty of space to fly about, the birds can be observed in their natural state. The ideal habitat for the toki have been recreated within the cage through consideration of their behavioral patterns with the positioning of plants, water and the dry wood where they would roost. If you are lucky, you can even see them within a distance of a mere 2 cm when they swoop down from the trees and forage through the mud.
Admission: Adult ¥ 400 / Child ¥ 100
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Toki Forest Park
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Toki Forest Park
- Tours of Toki Forest Park
Tenryo Ryotsu Sado Takigi Noh
On Sado Island, the traditional Japanese entertainment of Noh permeates the local citizenry and is performed everywhere. At its peak, there were as many as 200 Noh stages on the island. Even now, there are 33 stages which make up for a third of all of the Noh venues in Japan. In the 15th century, Sado was known as the place where the author Zeami, who was famous for having perfected Noh, was exiled, but thanks to the Noh performances held there, it became familiar for the art form in the Edo Era in the 17th century. A close adviser to Ieyasu Tokugawa who was on a visit to Sado to develop gold mining there came to love Noh, and it is said that the following for a couple of high-ranked Noh actors was the beginning of Noh’s rise to fame. One characteristic of Sado Noh is its traditions being preserved by the local residents and even performed by them. Originally, Noh had been enjoyed by the privileged classes such as the warrior caste, but with no feudal lords on Sado, which was under direct control of the shogunate and was a location where there was little class distinction among the island residents, the genre came to be enjoyed by everyone. Also, many Noh stages, which were seen as familiar “shrines” by residents, were built, so it is believed that the performances became like religious rituals which further deepened the relationship between Noh and the masses.
During the year, approximately 20 performances of Noh are held on Sado. Among these, the performances of Tenryo Ryotsu Sado Takigi Noh at Shiizaki Sugawara Shrine are well-liked by local residents and tourists and are held many times throughout the year for the beauty of Noh offered through the fire from sacred firewood. Except for August, there is a monthly performance from May to October with the performances being approximately 1 hour in length. You can enjoy genuine Noh easily at reasonable prices with all seats being non-reserved. Photographs are allowed by customers as long as there is no flash photography and the shutter sound is muted. Also, washrooms are available inside the shrine so that the performances can be enjoyed securely.
Admission: ¥ 1000
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Tenryo Ryotsu Sado Takigi Noh
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Tenryo Ryotsu Sado Takigi Noh
- Tours of Tenryo Ryotsu Sado Takigi Noh
Obata Sake Brewery
At Obata Sake Brewery, which has a long history going back to its beginnings in 1892, premium sake is continued to be brewed under the concept of “Shihou Wajou”(The Four Diamonds) which refers to the 4 treasures of rice, water, people and the harmony of Sado itself. Chosen as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System, the brewery makes high-grade sake under Sado Island’s ideal conditions including Sado rice that has been highly praised for its cultivation under natural farming methods, naturally filtered soft water, top-class techniques and staff who have preserved a strict old-fashioned formula, along with the honest passion of the owner. It has also gained fame through many awards including consecutive Gold Prizes from the National Research Institute of Brewing in Japan and a Gold Medal from the International Wine Challenge. Furthermore, the brewery’s famous brand of Manotsuru was selected as the sake served in the first class section of Air France and has been served on international flights of the finest airlines to earn its internationally recognized reputation.
You can tour inside Obata Sake Brewery and sample the sake. At the entrance hall, there is a video presentation of the sake-brewing process (English/Chinese), and at the tasting corner inside the facility, you can try various types of local sake. At a specially-sized long counter which was designed by students at the Shibaura Institute of Technology, there are highly knowledgeable staff stationed there. Beyond the counter, enjoy the exchange and culture of Japanese sake. If you come across the sake that you enjoy, you can purchase it right there. One recommendation is the Manotsuru Junmai Set which is only available for visitors to the brewery. You can enjoy a variety of flavors from the 3 types of popular sake (each bottle is 720ml). The Daiginjo Sake cake is also delicious. The cake, which has become a hit for its superior taste, is liberally infused with the delicate yet fruity scent of Manotsuru and has a smooth and moist texture.