In spring, the countryside is covered in flowers, and the whole island looks glorious in the warm weather. Rare wild grasses growing among the mountains, especially in the Osado range, are the highlight, making a beautiful sight for trekkers and climbers. In June, as summer approaches, you can see fireflies beside the streams and their twinkling lights seem to merge with the stars in the sky.
Spring to summer is the season of village festivals. In April in particular there are traditional festivals somewhere on the island almost every day. Sado also has a flourishing tradition of Noh theater and from spring though autumn numerous Noh plays are performed. Takigi Noh, performed at night by firelight invites you into the mysterious world of phantoms.
Even today, rare wild flowers and grasses are found in the unexplored mountainous regions. Shiraneaoi, (glaucidium) , katakuri (dogtooth violet) , yukiwariso (hepatica) , chigoyuri (disporum smilacinum) and zazenso (eastern skunk cabbages) are just some of the flowers that grow luxuriantly in spring among the Osado mountains.
In spring, when the whole island takes on the hues of tradition and public entertainment with time-honored ritual entertainments and folk performances. In keeping with ancient traditions, they are presented at every shrine. These events include horseback archery and kagura (ancient Shinto music and dancing) , processions bearing the omikoshi (palanquin of the god) to the shrine, sagariha (bands of traditional musical instruments) , demon drums, lion dances, dances with bamboo hats decorated with artificial flowers, and tsuburosashi dance. All of these entertainments vary in style and costume from one area to another. Amid the gorgeous display, you can sense the depth and solemnity of tradition. A visit to any one of them is a rewarding experience.
Cherry blossom festival
Cherry trees are found all over Sado and in spring every neighborhood glows with the deep pink of cherry blossoms. There are trees with special histories, old trees, big trees, and trees within the precincts of shrines and temples that blend with the magnificence of the buildings. Flower festivals are held every year in Mano Park and at the Niibo dam with demon drums and other entertainments to enhance the atmosphere. Many places are floodlit in the evening and the sight of cherry blossoms floating against the darkness creates a powerful emotion.
Rice-planting is more than an exercise in productivity and hard work, as illustrated by the many religious rituals in connection with rice-planting that are erformed on Sado from New Year to spring. In the olden days, rice-planting itself was both a solemn ritual task and a merry festival. Sado, as everyone knows, is famous for its rice. Nowadays most families have a machine for planting rice, but you can still see rice being planted by hand in fields too small for a machine and in supplementary plantings. The whole family turns out to help at the big event. The sight of feeble little shoots trembling in the wind as they cast their shadow on the surface of the wet paddy fields immediately after planting is a nostalgic scene reminiscent of rice fields long ago.
Tango no sekku (Boy's day celebration)
On the day of the Boy's Day Celebration, shobu (iris) , yomogi (artemisia) and kaya (Japanese nutmeg) are offered to gods and Buddha and put on the roofs of houses, storehouses and barns. Many homes still maintain the custom of putting iris leaves in the bath in the evening to make the boys grow up strong and to keep them safe from snake bites.
Kanzo (hemerocallis middendorffii, var. exaltata)
These beautiful yellow lillies are found only in Sakata and on Tobishima Island in Yamagata Prefecture, and on Sado. While they bloom all over the island from the end of May to the middle of June, there are masses of them in the Ryotsu district and Onogame and Futatsugame in particular. Day lilies in bloom are one of the most famous Sado scenes.
The dancing lights of fireflies can be seen near rice fields and streams at the approach of summer. On Sado, far from any big city, and with dim town lighting, the stars in the night sky shine clearly. Watching these softly dancing lights melting into starlight as you rest by a quiet stream listening to the rippling of the water is very romantic.
Takigi Noh (Noh performed at night by firelight)
Noh is such a deeply rooted tradition on Sado that there is a song about "the nightingale, singing in a Noh theatre even at this small village." At one time, there were more than 200 Noh stages on the island. Even nowadays there are more than 30 remaining, some of them newly restored, and performances are held regularly. June in particular is the "Noh month" when plays are performed at night by firelight to immerse spectators in the phantom world.
Botan (tree peonies)
Spring is the time when the tree peonies - planted along the road leading to Sado City's Chokokuji Temple, an ancient temple modeled on Hasedera Temple in Yamato--burst into colorful bloom The temple precincts are filled with their sweet fragrance.
June is the season for hydrangeas, which bloom all over the island. Most stunning are the countless hydrangeas in the grounds of Rengebuji Temple, also known as the hydrangea temple. This temple contains many buildings that have been designated as culturally important.