Sado was at one time a place of exile and many well-known people accused of political or ideological crimes were sent here. Sado has also given birth to numerous intellectuals and artists. The foundations of Sado's culture were built by people like these. This section introduces some of Sado's notable figures past and present.
The first person to be exiled to Sado is said to have been Asomioyu Hozumi, a poet who contributed to the Manyoshu collection of poetry, in 722 when he was involved in an incident where the emperor was criticized. Thereafter, many others were banished here. Most had been found guilty of political or ideological crimes after ending up on the losing side of political disputes. Some were subsequently pardoned and able to return to the capital. Most, however, ended their days on Sado. The fact that most of these exiles came from aristocratic or artistic milieux meant that Sado inherited the traditions of many different cultural centers and the foundations of a number of traditional entertainments still performed today are thought to have been laid by exiles to Sado.
Mongaku Shonin (priest)
A samurai with the secular name of Morito Endo who used to serve under a retired emperor. The story of how he fell in love with Kesagozen, the wife of Wataru Minamoto, and became a Buddhist priest after he killed her by mistake, is famous. It seems that he was exiled here in March 1199 for his involvement in the plot against the Kamakura shogunate, but since some accounts maintain that he died on Sado while others say that he was exiled to Tsushima. What actually happened is not clear. Legend has it that Mongaku founded the Shinzenji Temple in Ookubo, and a stone bench where he sat can still be seen.
Juntoku Joko (retired emperor)
Exiled to Sado in 1221, at the age of 24, for his part in the failed attempt to overturn the Kamakura shogunate known as the "Jokyu War," Juntoku died on Sado 22 years later, at the age of 46, without ever returning to the capital. Many ruins from that time, such as Mano Imperial Tomb and Kuroki Imperial Palace, still remain. Juntoku's sojourn on the island has also given rise to a number of legends.
Nichiren Shonin (priest)
The founder of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism was exiled to Sado in 1271 when his "Rissho Ankokuron" (Treatise on Securing the Peace of the Land by the Establishment of the Correct Dharma) provoked the wrath of the Kamakura Shogunate. Nichiren described his own point of view in his "Kaimokusho (On Opening Your Eyes) " which he wrote in the Sanmai Hall of the Konponji Temple in Tsukahara. After moving to the Ichitani Monastery (Myoshoji Temple) he composed the Jukai Mandala or Mandala of the Ten Buddhist Realms in which he expressed the philosophy of the Lotus Sutra. The culmination of Nichiren's thought and philosophy is found in the "Kanshinhonzonsho," meaning "Treatise on the Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind." It is said that he was able to produce these works thanks to the external protection of the priest Abutsubo and his wife, Sennichini (Myosenji Temple) and the priest Kokufu and his wife, Zennichiama (Sesonji Temple) . Nichiren spent two years and five months on Sado before being pardoned in 1274, and returning to Kamakura. From Honkoji Temple in Matsugasaki where Nichiren landed to the sacred sites in Shibute, Maura and other areas from which he set sail when he left, Sado abounds with histories, ruins and legends connected with Nichiren.
A politician and poet in the late Kamakura period, Tamekane's proactive, revolutionary lifestyle considerably influenced the dispute between the southern and northern courts over the imperial succession and resulted in his banishment by the Shogunate in 1298 when he was 45 years old. Exiled to a small building in Hachimangu Shrine, Tamekane spent his time composing poems in which he prayed to the gods for his recall to Kyoto. Perhaps in answer to his prayers, he was pardoned five years later in 1303 and did return to Kyoto. Thereafter, at the command of Emperor Fushimi, he compiled the poetry collection known as the "Gyokuyowakashu."
Banished to Sado after taking responsibility for the Emperor Godaigo's suppression of the Hojo regents in the so-called "Seichu Incident" in 1324, Suketomo was imprisoned here for seven years before being executed. His tomb is in the five-storey pagoda of the Myosenji Temple. The "Taiheiki" tells the story of how his son Kumawakamaru, at the age of 13, crossed over to Sado and killed his father's enemy Saburo Honma. This story is also famous as the subject of the Noh play " Danpu." The ruins of the Honma house where the assassination took place are near the Myosenji Temple in Abutsubo and a remain of pine tree in which Kumawakamaru is supposed to have hidden when he was escaping from his pursuers is still there. A mountain priest, Daizenbo, who looked after Kumawakamaru and planned his escape from the island is enshrined as a deity and worshipped at Daizen Shrine in Takeda.
Known for his "Kadensho" (an essay on Noh art) , Zeami brought the art of Noh to its highest degree of perfection. He was banished to Sado in 1434 at the age of 72 on an angry whim of the Shogun Yoshinori Ashikaga. Whether or not he was ever pardoned and returned to Kyoto is uncertain. His life on Sado is recounted in the Kintosho (an account of his tour in the Gold Island) . The ruins of his prison were transferred from the Manpukuji Temple, where he was initially confined, to the Shohoji Temple, and in the temple precincts a stone bench on which Zeami sat can still be seen.
A very learned Confucian scholar respected as an authority in his field, Saneoki achieved the rank of chief councilor of state. He rebelled when his daughter, despite giving birth to the Emperor's first child, did not accede to Imperial rank and was exiled to Sado in 1681 along with his eldest son Kintsura and his second son Suetomo. The presence on Sado of Saneoki, councilor of state and scholar and Kintsura, a poet, contributed greatly to the art and literature of the island. Two years into their exile, both Saneoki and Kintsura passed away. The younger son Suetomo was pardoned and returned to Kyoto. The graves of father and son are still to be seen in the Kannonji Temple in Aikawakabuse.
Sado natives (scholars, artists, philosophers and others)
Shuzo Shibata (1820-1859) , geographer
Born in 1820 in Shukunegi in the Ogi district, Shuzo set off for Edo in 1839 at the age of 19 to learn Western studies. Living in extreme poverty, one year before the arrival of Commodore Perry's ships, he published his "Shintei Kon-yo Ryakuzenzu," a map of the world which revised the oval-shaped world map of Matteo Ricci. The map shows Shukunegi along with Paris and London. Shuzo's efforts were recognized by the Shogunate who in 1855 appointed him official illustrator of maps at the Institute for Studying Western Learning of the Shogunate. However, he died three years later, at the age of 40. He is buried in the Shokoji Temple in Shukunegi. His world map is in the Sado Museum and other materials can be found in the Naval Data Center.
Ryokai Shiba (1839 - 1879) , physician and linguist
Born in the Mano district in 1839, Ryokai started studying medicine in Edo at the age of 12, and at 19 he went with his teacher, Ryojun Matsumoto to learn from Doctor Pompe in Nagasaki. Ryokai's genius for foreign languages was such that there was apparently no language which he could not understand; he even published Japan's first German-Japanese dictionary. He too died young at the early age of 40. His genius is brilliantly depicted in the book,"Dream of the Butterfly," by Ryotaro Shiba.
Bakusen Tsuchida (1887-1936) , Japanese-style painter
Born in the Niibo district in 1887, Bakusen entered the Chishakuin Temple in Kyoto at the age of 16 as a servant boy. However he left monastic orders in order to study Japanese painting, at great pain and effort, with Shonen Suzuki and later Seiho Takeuchi as teachers. At the age of 21 he won the annual award of the Art Academy of the Ministry of Education. Thereafter he painted many pictures heavily influenced by early modern Western painting and became a member of the Imperial Art Academy. The critic Kyoson Tsuchida was his younger brother. Niibo Elementary School has a memorial stone to the two brothers and many drawings are preserved in Sado Museum.
Kyoson Tsuchida (1891-1934) , critic and philosopher
The younger brother of Bakusen, Kyoson was born in 1891. At the age of 9, he passed all subjects in the Niigata Prefecture Elementary School Qualification Examination and from Niigata Teacher's School he went to Tokyo Higher Normal School, followed by Kyoto Imperial University and Graduate School. He began his career as a critic early, contributing articles to the newspaper from his days at teacher's school. He was affected by laryngeal tuberculosis at the age of 33 and died at the age of 43. His written articles, which cover a wide range of subjects including philosophy, religion, education, history and literature, fill 60 books.
Ikki Kita (1883-1937) , thinker
Born in the Ryotsu district in 1883, Ikki became famous for his book,"Kokutairon oyobi Junsei Shakaishugi" (The Theory of Japan's National Polity and Pure Socialism) , sales of which were however prohibited. Because his "Nihon Kaizo Hoan Taiko" (An Outline Plan for the Reorganization of Japan) of 1937 strongly influenced the young officers involved in the February 26 incident, a court martial sentenced him to death. He was 54. He is buried in Shokoji Temple in the Ryotsu district and there is a memorial to him, along with his brother, the politician Reikichi, at the Wakamiya Hachiman Shrine.
Fubo Hayashi (1900-1935) , novelist
Born in the Akadomari district in 1900 into an old family with the role of a connoisseur of gold currency in the magistrate's office, his real name was Kaitaro Hasegawa. He is particularly well-known for his historical novel "Tangesazen," but he also wrote American-Japanese stories under the name of Jyoji Tani, and mysteries and family novels under the name of Itsuma Maki. Though he died prematurely at the age of 35, he had a superman's energy, cramming three lives into one.
Suekichi Aono (1890-1961) , art and literary critic
Suekichi was born in the Sawada district in 1890. He made his literary debut with "Shinrei no Metsubo (Psychic Destruction) " which appeared in the Shincho magazine, and made his career as a leading theorist of the proletarian literature movement. After the war, he was appointed Chairman of the Japan Writer's Association and was the first critic to become a member of the Japan Art Academy. The "Pen Monument," his own work, stands beside the Reifukan building in Sawaneikari.
Shodo Sasaki (1882-1961) , wax cast sculptor
Born in the Sawada district in 1882, he originally wanted to be a painter, but gave up the idea because of his extreme short-sightedness and became an apprentice to Rando Miyata, the first wax cast sculptor. Wax casting is a long-standing traditional craft in which a cast is made from a wax mold. Shodo's Enku buddhas, which he carved in later years, carry the art of molding in wax to new heights, and their beauty is full of human pathos. In 1960 Shodo was made a living national treasure. His "Tancho (auspicious bird) ," roof decorations on the present Imperial Palace, are well-known. There is a memorial exhibition hall to him in the Sado Museum of History and Legend in Mano.