The island of Sado is quite famous for its gold mine which started exploiting Sado’s natural gold reserves in 1601. Among the workers of the most productive gold mine in Japan were some criminals sent in exile to Sado island. From its early days to the end of the exploitation in 1989, mining techniques have changed a lot, from manual labor to mechanical tools. Those are explained in detail in the Sado gold mine museum which actually features two mining tunnels representing the old and modern era of gold mining. Among the exhibits is a real gold bar that you can touch. However, you may only do so through a small hole which makes stealing the gold bar a nearly impossible feat. A price is given to those who succeed removing the bar through the tiny hole. Several hundred people have actually succeeded. I tried and failed three times… I which you a better luck!
The Japanese hot spring Inn we stayed at in Sado Island offered a traditional dance show in the evening: a unique opportunity to enjoy Japanese culture after soaking in the bath and a generous seafood dinner including a copious amount of Japanese beer and sake.
A group of traditional dancers and singers came to the hotel’s lobby and gave a warm performance of a traditional dance from Sado island along the Okesa Song. The Okesa song, which is a dialog between two lovers, is thought to have been brought to Sado island by seamen navigating the sea of Japan. It is now an important cultural heritage to Sado island.
Taking the ferry in Japan is a peculiar experience. Ferries are typically divided in different classes. All classes share the common characteristic that most Japanese try to sleep during the trip, even if it takes only a few hours during daytime. Upper level classes consist in large rooms filled with individual and fully horizontal mattresses on which customers can sleep. Few first class rooms akin to hotel rooms are sometimes available on the upper deck.
I was in the lower class, which is more rudimentary. It consists in carpeted floor area where one can lie down. Customers seemed to consider the carpets dirty since the best majority sleep on old journal paper. While older folks take a nap or watch baseball while lying down, kids feed the marine birds with potato crackers. I personally choose to eat a warm bowl of ramen noodles and to document in photos this interesting experience of Japanese culture.
Kamiya bar is located in Tokyo’s famous historical district of Asakusa. It is famously knows in Tokyo for the unique drink it serves: “Denki Bran”. Denki Bran is a mix of brandy-like alcohol but the exact receipy, however, is a well guarded secret. The best way to enjoy Denki Bran is to drink it in between two glasses of beer I was told. Of course, one liter beer glasses are available. Kamiya bar also serves food that do a good job at accompanying the drinks.
The Togakushi middle shrine (Chu-Sha) enshrines the God of wisdom. Among the Togakushi shrines, it is located in the midway between the lower and upper shrines. All of the Togakushi shrines, which are about two kilometers apart, are connected via hiking trails and roads.
The middle shrine is located above a pleasant town where the culinary speciality of Nagano prefecture, buckwheat noodles (soba), may be enjoyed at the local restaurant. It is especially recommended as a light and refreshing meal after a long and hot summer day!
The Togakushi shrines are a group of three shrine areas located in the mountainous region north of Nagano. They got their name from being situated at the base of Mount Togakushi.
The one called the lower shrine (Hōkō-sha) is located at a lower altitude compared to the other two. It enshrines a female God protecting maternity, academic life and sewing!
Interestingly, a long time ago, the Togakushi shrines were also Buddhist temples as it was common in ancient Japan.