There are lots of big and small islands in Japan. Being in the Japan Sea and facing the Niigata (新潟) main land, Sado Island (佐渡島) is the 6th biggest island in Japan (excluding the main islands such as Hokkaido). It is part of the Niigata Prefecture which is known for the high amount of snow fall during winter time.

Being an island in an unpopulated area, Sado Island appears to be more a lonely land in solitude than anywhere else. That’s why it was a perfect place to exile the revolutionary activists. In the old times, many people who were being exiled to this island were those who had high social positions such as Emperor Juntoku (順德天皇), the famous aesthetician, actor, and playwright Zeami (世阿彌), etc. This led to the cultural, artistic, religious developments of this little Island.

Today, it is like a living museum where you can try various cultural activities such as gold rush and Tarai-bune (たらい舟) tub-boat ride, and at the same time, learn the history behind them! (•‾̑⌣‾̑•)

There are many gold mines on Sado Island! Let’s go gold hunting!

Since 1601, during the Edo Period, many gold mines were discovered on Sado Island! The number of mines is the highest in Japan! Therefore, the ruler at that time – Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康), had named it the “Prison Island”. On one hand, this could avoid the foreigners from entering; on the other hand, they could use the prisoners to dig out the gold! That is why Sado Island is also called Sado Gold Hill (佐渡金山).

And now, it is time for gold hunting! In Sado Nishimikawa Gold Park (佐渡西三川ゴールドパーク), you can pay a good 700 yen for gold rush. There are three different levels of gold hunting. Level 1 is to use a tray to get the prepared gold sand indoor and check if there is any gold pieces; the second level is gold hunting in an artificial river; the third level is in the real river, in which, I think we could barely get any gold. (۶ꈨຶꎁꈨຶ )۶ʸᵉᵃʰᵎ In the end, you will be given a test tube to put the collected gold as souvenir!

The Tarai-bune (Tub boat) is so stable that even girls can control easily

Walking towards the Ogi Habour, you will see the bath-tube like Tarai-bune (たらい舟) lining up at the sea coast waiting for passengers! Way back to the 60s, the Tarai-bune was used to ride along the sea to facilitate the capture of abalones, lobsters, shellfish, etc. where there were stones and corals to avoid. Its unique shape, flexible steering, ease of controlling made it an ideal transportation vehicle at that time.

Today, it is mainly used for tourists! As you can see in the picture, the great captains are mainly ladies who are wearing their beautiful traditional clothes. You can check the updated time and fees from the Taraibune Rikiya Sightseeing Steamboats (たらい舟力屋観光汽船) company’s website. Each boat normal takes 2 to 3 people and up to 5 people! You can actually try riding the boat by yourself. The riding pattern is like drawing an eight. If you do it good enough, you can obtain the Tarai-bune qualified captain certificate as well! ଘ(੭ˊ꒳ˋ)੭✧

It is exactly the same Tarai-bune tub boat in “Spirited Away”

By the way, if you have watched “Spirited Away”, it is exactly the same boat with which Rin (リン) had used to ride Chihiro (千尋) to the tram station.

Can you believe that? I felt like I have already known how to ride the boat just by repeating watching the animation! (o◞ิ‿◟ิo)

After watching more than 50 times of each of the animations by Ghibli Studio (株式会社スタジオジブリ), my radar of Ghibli traces has become automatic, ♡✧( ु•⌄• ) leading me to create the list of places of Spirited Away Traces! Check that out if you love “Spirited Away”!!

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