Top 5 Things to do on Sado Island City, Niigata, Japan. Video.

The Top Five Things to Do on Sado Island

Sado Island, otherwise known as Sado City, is a part of the Niigata Prefecture. It’s just a short ferry trip away (about an hour on the fast ferry or almost two on the scenic one).

The island is home to a huge number of things to do. Mainly because it is a bit of a distance away from much of Japan so the people of the island do their best to attract visitors. I was very impressed with what they had to offer.


It is a surprisingly huge place with immense rice paddies, amazing stretches of land, mountains, valleys and long winding roads filled with old houses. There are a number of tourist destinations on Sado island including old temples, a Japanese Ibis sanctuary, a sake brewery, a cemetery, rice paddies, bamboo forests, tub boat rides (Tarai-bune), great views from all over the island and even a couple of small mountain ranges.


1. Japanese Ibis Sanctuary

If you’re a bird watcher you already know about this place. If you’re just curious, check this one out. The carers of the Japanese Ibis have put millions of hours and money into the project to save this endangered species and it is fantastic to see the love and passion the people there have for the place. Check out some rare and almost extinct Japanese Ibis in heavily protected and distanced cages and read about their breeding and release into the wild. Beautiful

2. Gold Panning

Over 64,000 people live here now, though there used to be over 125,000 in the 1950s. It’s been populated for at least 2000 years and some of its inhabitants are descended from the original homeless who were sent there in the 15th century to work in the gold mines and pan for gold.

You’ll find a number of gold museums, shops and a panning for gold service on the island. Not for those with sore lower backs!


3. Sake Breweries.

There are a few on the island. My time was limited so I only had the chance to visit one. The people are welcoming, the sake tasting is amazing, and the bottles available at reasonable prices are to die for. No, sorry, customs doesn’t allow you to bring in crates of sake!


4. Tub Boat Rides (Tarai-bune)

You haven’t been to Sado Island unless you take a tub boat ride. The people running it are amazing and the skill they have to be able to move you through the water is like magic. (Certainly, when they gave me the chance to try, I couldn’t move us at all.) You won’t believe the physics. Check it out!


5. Various Temples

OMG! There are amazing temples everywhere. Hidden, secret, known to the locals etc. You’ll find them. Beautiful and cared for, worth a visit, with lovely people ready to tell you about them.


And much more! I cover more of the amazing things on Sado Island in different blog posts. Check them out for more details.

This post’s video is the ferry trip over and back with some general views of the island. More soon!


  • Neil A is an author, blogger and tutor, with a variety of books on Amazon. Check out his children's series here: