Friday, November 9, 2012

North Sado

This post will finish describing the beautiful and historical island of Sado in Niigata. Yesterday, I described the Southern and Central parts of the island (or the places we visited), so now it is time for the wild North!

The way to visit the isolated and wild North is by following a narrow coastal road which cuts through small towns and ends up becoming in a single lane track at the Northern tip of the island. Driving in this last area is not for the faint-hearted. Once at the tip of the island, it is better to come back on the other side, to avoid driving again in the same "road"!

The largest town in the area is Aikawa 相川, the town which flourished in the Edo period due to the famous Gold and Silver mines in the mountains nearby. The mines are actually the main attraction in this area. They have already been inscribed in the UNESCO tentative list for the World Heritage registration. That means there are high chances they will become a UNESCO World Heritage in the near to mid future. The Edo period mine is pretty interesting and has lots of robots trying to show us the working conditions in the mine tunnels. They even mined below sea level and needed complex drainage systems to make exploitation sustainable!

After wandering in the underground tunnels for around 1 hour, there is an informative museum which explains how the gold was extracted, processed and traded. And there is also a chance to grab a 12 kg chunk of pure gold!

The mountains nearby looked beautiful with some reddish colors...

Further North, there is the beautifully scenic Senkaku-wan, with a small aquarium and some games for kids. These are some of the nice views.

The coastline becomes really rough and wild with many rocks jutting out of the sea.

Even tunnels are the roughest made you can probably see in Japan! Just a hole through the rocks!

In the Northern tip of the island, there are two beautiful places with huge rock: Onogame 大野亀 and Futatsugame 二ツ亀. Onogame is actually the largest rock in Japan. It is the huge rock in the photo just below. There are hiking routes to the top if you have the time to climb up there. View must be pretty good!

The other rocks, Futatsugame, are two rocks connected to the island by thin strips of black sand when the tide is low. When we went, tide was high and they looked just like two small islets.

Two more photos of Onogame and Futatsu game.

At this point, we were pretty near from Vladivostok, in Russia! That sounds far!!!

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