Loading Map...

Sado Shima

Written on: Sunday February 22nd, 2009

A journal entry from: Japan

Sado Shima (Island) is on the northern side of the bow of the main island of Honshu, facing the Asian mainland. Sado is famous as an island of exile - in previous times, people who fell befoul of the Emperor (or shogun) were sometimes sent here to this wild little island, far away from the capitals and main population centres. A few of them were well-known historical figures, writers, Buddhist priests, and so on. There was even one Emperor (Emperor Juntoku, 1197-1242) who was exiled here; he had tried to wrest power back to the throne from the ruling shogun.

The island isn't that big. If you drive the circumference without stopping (and there is a fantastic seaside road that goes around 95% of it) it only takes 5 or so hours. Kelly was keen to drive the whole circle, but of course we made plenty of stops, and spread it out over 2 days.

On the first day, we stopped at Turtle Island, and spotted a nearby outcropping with a clear path to the top. We set off and climbed up it. Near the top we encountered the "spider kingdom", a long section of the path were the surrounding trees were filled with an astounding number of webs and lined with yellow and black spiders. We also stopped at the tomb of the Emperor Juntoku; it was surprisingly simple, plain, and small. We also took a hike up Mt. Kimboku, the highest point on the island and which you need a permit from the Self-Defense Forces to hike. It turns out that all we needed to do was talk to a man at the main tourist centre, who called our names and expected time of arrival in to the SDF. Mt. Kimpoku isn't a particularly big mountain, and the entrance to the hike was just a road turning off the main road passing through that area. But the road was gated, and a young SDF guy was set up just waiting there, and we parked the car, told him who we were, and he let us in. It wasn't a big or beautiful hike, and it was raining, but it was fun so we slogged thoruhg it.

Mostly, though it was just great driving along this windy little road, at times just about spitting distance from the sea, on this out-of-the-way little place.