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Sado Island

Sado Island is a former island of exile for political dissenters off the northwestern coast of Japan, with a history of gold mining, Noh performance, and taiko drumming.

Sado Island

Sado Island is a remote island off the coast of Niigata Prefecture. It is one of the largest islands in Japan. Back in the day the island served as a destination for political exiles. The three most famous of the ones sent out to Sado were Nichiren (famed Buddhist Monk), Zeami Motokiyo (founder of Noh), and Emperor Juntoku. Even though the people were forced to be residents on the island they still brought their cultural beliefs with them. The island is no longer used to exile individuals, but the ones who once resided their left traces of their residency. The last recorded person to be exiled to the island was in 1700. One of the biggest attractions at Sado Island is the Earth Celebration, which is an annual music festival. It is also home to the endangered Japanese ibis or toki, which is extinct in the wild. There is also the Sado Kinzan, one of the most productive mines in Japan during the Edo Period.

The area was ruled by the Honma Clan until Uesugi Kagekatsu took control of the island in 1589. When the Uesugi clan lost the Battle of Sekigahara the Tokugawa Shogunate took direct control of the area with the discovery of gold. During the feudal era, Ogi, located in the southern part of the island, was a main stop for naval travel between the Kansai region and northern areas. For a brief period in the Meiji Era the island was called Aikawa Prefecture, until it was merged into Niigata Prefecture in 1876. The current city was established in 2004 when Ryotsu, Aikawa, Sawata, Kanai, Hatano, Mano, Hamochi, Ogi, Niibo, and Akadomari merged.