During our two-week stay in Japan, we spent three days on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture, which is about a two-hour train and one-hour ferry ride north of Tokyo. We didn't know too much about Sado Island before we went, except that the area was known for its beautiful landscapes and world-renowned sake (Niigata is home to some of Japan's best rice and sake). While we appreciated Tokyo's skyscrapers and crowds of people, we hoped to see a rural area that was less affected by modernity.
Sado Island ended up being so beautiful and one of the great surprises of our trip. The island had rocky cliffs, rice paddies, big ocean waves, and zigzag mountain roads. We ordered a tiny rental car and drove up and down the coast, stopping along different scenic landmarks (Futatsugame and Ohnogame were some of our favorite rock formations along the northern coast).
Other highlights from Sado Island:
- Staying in a traditional ryokan and sleeping on tatami mats
- Eating a feast of different kinds of seafood every night
- Visiting the toki sanctuary. Sado Island is one of the few places in the world to nurture the toki (Japanese crested ibis) population
- Walking through the Sado gold mine
- Visiting several different award-winning sake breweries and taking some bottles home
- Driving to enjoy the Osado Skyline scenery