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

“ An excellent day with a great guide ”

Excellent
5 hours ago Traveler: Michael -   Tour Guide: Yuki

Yuki was our guide around Kyoto for the day. I have only 1 word for this experience and it is “excellent”!!! My family and I had a wonderful time. Yuki was patient with my 11 year old and all her questions. He was able to give us a good explanation of all the places we visited as well some extras. Yuki took us to a fantastic restaurant which we thoroughly enjoyed. If you have a chance to have Yuk...
read more

“ Wonderful day in Kyoto ”

Excellent
12 hours ago Traveler: Debbi -   Tour Guide: Hiroshi

We had a great time with Hiro seeing the wonderful sights around Kyoto. We met at the train station and started our trek to Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Sanjusangen-do Buddhist temple, Nishiki Market, Nijo-jo Castle, and the Golden Pavilion. It was all very beautiful and Hiro told us interesting facts every where we stopped and was very informative. It was a fast paced day and that helped us so ma...
read more

“ Osaka and Kyoto Tours ”

Excellent
17 hours ago Traveler: Angelina -   Tour Guide: SHIN

It’s our first time and first day in Japan. We are so lucky that Shin-san is our tour guide! He is an excellent, courteous, knowledgeable, and amazing guide! He is highly organized, he called and even sent me an email the day before our tour. He even provided us the Plan/flowchart of the train schedule and helped us with the money exchange. We visited so many places in one day on Kyoto: The Golde...
read more

“ Wonderful Day ”

Excellent
21 hours ago Traveler: Angeline -   Tour Guide: Moe

We enjoyed a lovely day visiting sites with Moe. It was so much more meaningful to have Moe explain the significance of what we were looking at to us. Moe also took us to a delicious restaurant for lunch that locals go to. We certainly wouldn’t have found that place on Trip Advisor or Yelp.
read more

“ Excellent service ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Denimar -   Tour Guide: Mari

Mari San was very patient and accomodating esp with my mom who requested to stop and rest plenty of times due to foot and knee pain. Mari was very flexible and gave us different options. It felt like she was part of the family. Thank Mari San for your service.
read more

“ A great introduction to Kyoto ”

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

We had an excellent day with Toshiyo who proved a knowledgeable and companionable guide. We learnt so much about not only Kyoto, but the history of the places we visited and Japanese life. We would thouroughly recommend her.
read more

“ A day with a fantastic host ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: David -   Tour Guide: Hiroshi

We would have never accomplished what we did without Hiroshi. What a wonderful tour guide. His knowledge of Kyoto was amazing. You can't help but love this man. My wife and I are so grateful to have toured Kyoto with him.
read more

“ One day tour of Kyoto ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Nanette -   Tour Guide: Kaori

We visited Kyoto from the port of Kobe while on a cruise of Japan. Kaori met us at the port, and helped us navigate the trains to Kyoto. She was an excellent guide and we wouldn't have been able to see as much without her knowledge of the transportation system. She took us to see the temples and shrines we requested, and was very helpful all day. Lunch was excellent, and our day in Kyoto was a...
read more

“ Very responsive ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Jasper -   Tour Guide: VAN transportation

Very responsive and accurate as promised. Offered great recommendations
read more

“ Excellent itinerary. ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Yadanar -   Tour Guide: Hiroyuki

Hiroyuki was a wonderful and informative guide! He explained to us in detail about each location and communication was easy. Although the itinerary I chose contained lots of walking, every place we visited was worth the walk and we fit in a lot of Kyoto tourist sites for one day.
read more

Related cities

Plan your trip to Kyoto

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