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

Did you like my article?

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


Plan your trip to Kyoto

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

Recent Tour Reviews in Kyoto

“ Good guide, but... ”

Very Good
7 hours ago Traveler: Irene -   Tour Guide: Hiroyuki

Hiroyuki was supposed to meet us at the disembarkation center in Osaka and take to Kyoto. He stood together with his driver at the wrong spot, away from all other guides meeting the ship, and we lost 40 min. of precious time. He did his best as the guide, was knowledgeable and friendly, but had to run (literally) all the time to show us what was planned. The tour turned out quite uneasy.
read more

“ Kyoto experience ”

Excellent
12 hours ago Traveler: Michael -   Tour Guide: TOMOE

Very professional caring and courteous guide. Very knowledgeable and informative .Lots of good energy Wholehearted PLUS recommendation
read more

“ One-day in Kyoto? Eric is a godsend! ”

Excellent
15 hours ago Traveler: Ankita -   Tour Guide: ERIC

We had planned to stay 4 days of our 9 day stay in Japan but Typhoon Hagibis put paid to that. Our flights got cancelled 3 days in a row which meant we ended up going to Tokyo directly. I was determined to do at least a day trip to Kyoto even if it meant travelling 2 hrs 40 mins each way on the bullet train. This left us about 8 hours in Kyoto and Eric planned it brilliantly for us He met us at ...
read more

“ Great day with Mak ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Christine -   Tour Guide: MAKOTO

We would definitely recommend a tour with Mak, he is friendly knowledgable and nothing was too much trouble He guided us through purchasing our rail tickets and suggested best lunch options to take for our picnic lunch We had a wonderful day visiting such beautiful sights
read more

“ A great introduction to the real Kyoto. ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Daniel -   Tour Guide: Yuki

Yuki was an excellent guide. With a sense of humour and relaxed and patient manner he was enjoyable company. He spoke excellent English and gave considered and intelligent explanations to our many questions. Yuki planned an itinerary that met our interests perfectly. We explored interesting areas of Kyoto not on the usual tourist trail. Yuki went out of his way to make it an excellent experienc...
read more

“ Kyoto visit ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Linda -   Tour Guide: Kazuhiko

Kazu San was a excellent guide. We took a two day Half day tour thru Kyoto with him. We found him to be very pleasant and informative. He kept in touch with me all the time until I arrived from the United States. He is extremely efficient and will help you with all your questions in Kyoto. I would highly recommend him. Jack, Linda Los Angeles
read more

“ Kyoto tour ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Ricky -   Tour Guide: Aimu

Aimu is amazing, she covered all of our locations in perfect time and gave us information and the history of all the locations. She took us to a very nice restaurant for lunch and it was amazing. Aimu is very nice, intelligent and fun. I highly recommend Aimu to be your tour guide and your day will be amazing.
read more

“ Kyoto day trip ”

Excellent
2 days ago Traveler: Diane -   Tour Guide: Hideo

Hideo have us a full day at Kyoto covering major sites and selected a great lunch place. He was knowledgeable about history and each site, and spoke good English. Hideo was very well organized and kept us on track to see everything. It was overly ambitious to try to cover Kyoto sites in one day as we were unable to see each site thoroughly. But we did want an overview and got that and want to re...
read more

“ Extensive visit to kyoto ”

Excellent
2 days ago Traveler: Janet -   Tour Guide: Masaki

Masaki made our visit to Kyoto memorable. He was flexible with our itinerary, had great presentation skills and spoke fluent English. He helped us make restaurant reservations for my birthday. We enjoyed learning about the culture and history of Japan from him. If I go back to Kyoto I would hire him again.
read more

“ One Day Supertour with Eric ”

Excellent
2 days ago Traveler: John -   Tour Guide: ERIC

Eric took us for the 9 hour supertour of some of the key highlights of Kyoto. We covered the Golden Temple, the Bamboo Forest, Nijo Castle, the Fushimi Inari Shrine, the Higashikujomuromachi-Honganji temple, Gino and the Yasaka Pagoda. It was an excellent day and Eric was knowledgeable, warm and friendly as well as extremely flexible. He did a great job and we were very happy.
read more

Related cities

Plan your trip to Kyoto

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