Sado is a beautiful Island. As a tourist destination, few people know about it. Ironically, nowadays the Sado economically depends on tourism. If the Japanese tourist industry were doing a better job they would be making sure that foreign travellors knew about Sado.
One of the best ways to see Sado is to rent a car and drive completely around it. Most of Sado is sparsely populated. You can drive completely around Sado in a few hours and have plenty of time to stop at wherever you feel like. There are plenty of scenic sites for photography.
August is a good time for camping, but because of the chance of rain or high winds it's a good idea to have a car in case you can't stay in your tent. If worse comes to
worse, you can always sleep in the car.
I've used both the jetfoil and the ferry traveling to and from Sado. The jetfoils more
expensive but it's a better ride. It's like flying over the water. There's no going up and down at all (so you can avoid sea sickness). The jetfoil takes about an hour. The ferry takes about 2 hours or so.
Sado is historically most famous for it's gold mine. At the height of the Edo Period, Sado was of such vital importantance that Niigata City and Sado Island were ruled directly through the might of the Tokugawa Shogun rather than through one of the shogun's daimyo (a kind of regional governor/warlord).
Sado Island was also used as a prison for political criminals, unregistered people (citizens who who had no proof of registration or identification), and others who were simply kidnapped and brought to Sado to mine for gold; all of whom were used for forced labor for the mining of gold or for supportive processes for refining wrought gold.
The Sado gold mines run underneath the mountains for hundreds of miles and in some cases oxygen had to be pumped down into the depths of the mines to keep the workers from suffocating.
Today, Sado still has gold, but not enough to make it worth anyones personal time to mine it.
UPDATE: The Russian Village has been closed for many years now.
Old Post Below (in case you're wondering what it had to offer... or if they ever bring it back)
I went here with my brother and my Japanese teacher. The Russian village offers 'fast food' Russian food. Some shops sell Russian arts & crafts. The best thing is the Russian entertainment. The singers have wonderful voices. We were able to listen to traditional Russian instruments and songs. It was beautiful.
At this time, there were some visiting Russian acrobats. It was an extra treat to see them in action.
The Russian Village also has a small museum housing a giant Mastodon animated replica. Also, there is Mastodon skeleton on display.
The Village has an indoor laser light show. We drove there. If you drive you'll need someone who knows the area or a map.
You can also get there by tax within 15 to 20 minutes from Suibara Station.
Sado Island offers so much that it really should have it's own section. Sado is the 5th largest island in Japan (after Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku).
Tourist atractions: Sado Gold Mine, Tub-boats, Earth day festival (Taiko drummers) to name a few.
Sports activities: hiking, scuba diving, swimming, fishing, and more.
Restaurants and fine cuisine
Hotels and camping
Cultural events: Earth day festival and Bon-Odori
Hiking up Kakuda takes only about 45 minutes to an hour and provides you with an unbelievably great view of Niigata's many rice fields and vast plain. Most foreigners I know have never climbed it and so they have no idea what they are missing. You can get to the foot of the mountain by car. In some areas it is also possible to get to the top by car, but if you do it that way you'll miss out on the adventure of the climb.
This garden is located in the city of Niitsu. It's quite a drive. And like most of my excursions, you'll need a map, a car, and probably a native. The Garden has quite a number of plants that I had never seen before. It's a nice place to spend a few hours. You can also 'hike' around the surrounding hillsides. Ample parking is available.
Check the webpage below for directions & map:
This is Hayadegawa Dam. Japan has a bunch of them. They probably just aren't one of your regular tourist attractions. But, the one I came across was surrounded by beauty. This dam is located in Niigata Prefecture in a valley within the surrounding mountains. Although I can't give you exact directions. You're likely to find something interesting whenever you just drive around the countryside in these mountains. Hayadegawa Dam regulates the flow of water from the Hayadegawa River.
If you want to go here you'll need a map. Match the kanji in the picture with what you'd find on the map. Good luck.
It's in a very beautiful location.
This is my second choice as far as beer gardens go. Tainai Kogen Brewery
offers a pretty good selection of beer. Don't
bother with the cheese plater though. Order
There is a large hotel located near there with a wonderful view of the river.
It's in the country not too far from Nakajou. I don't know of any other way of getting there other than by car.
Don Hill is a small hill between the city centre and the waterfront. At the summit of the hill is the Statue of Kawamura magistrate.
The hill is mostly natural forest looking and makes for a lovely walk before hitting the concrete coastline on the other side!
As most of you probably know the 2002 World Cup Soccer was in Japan and Korea.
Niigata was one of the hosting cities in Japan for the cup. The Big Swan Stadium was purpose built to host one of the most exciting sporting events in the world!
Myoko Mountain is located at the southern border of Niigata Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture.
Suginohara is a very nice ski and snowboarding park that I went to a couple of times. I went from Nagano City driving along the Joshin-Etsu expressway north until the Myoko turnoff. You could also travel along route 18 from either north or south. There are also trains that run there on the Nagano-Naoetsu train line. Suginohara was absolutely beautiful on a sunny day with views of Nijiri-ko (lake), Madarao and nearby Kurohime mountain. There is a gondola that goes close to the top of the mountain and a long ski run down. Lift tickets are 4000Yen. Great!