In summer the sea round Sado is transparently clear and the coastal waters are crowded with bathers. Surrounded by sea on all sides, the coastline varies greatly from place to place. This is the season for a leisurely drive round the island to admire the view of the sparkling sea. Summer nights are lit up by the magical glow of fishing boat lights (for luring squid) which drift far out over the water.
Many types of seafood can be enjoyed in summer. The scent of squid, mollusk and abalone roasting on the beach is mouth-watering. Another summer delicacy is "ayu no ishiyaki", which is wild river trout (ayu) roasted on hot stones beside the Hamochi river.
Opening of the beaches
This is the long-awaited season for swimming in the sea. The transparent water, the pride of Sado, attracts many bathers from all over the island, as well as visitors from other parts of Niigata Prefecture and Japan. In some places there are beach huts and the wafting fragrance of locally-caught mollusk, abalone and squid is another sign that summer is here.
Isaribi (Fish lights)
Although squid can be caught all year round on Sado, it is in summer that they are at their best. The fresh, transparent flesh should be eaten raw, sliced thinly as sashimi, or in long strings like noodle. Fishing for these squid takes place only when it is dark, from the evening till early morning and the lights to lure the squid, floating out in the dark sea between the waves, is the essence of summer.
This is a Shinto ritual performed on the morning of the first day of the Mine Festival in the Aikawa district. The Mine Festival itself starts on the fourth Saturday of July and lasts two days. A traditional ritual performance at Oyamazumi Shrine, which was built by Nagayasu Okubo to protect the mountain where gold and silver were mined, the yawaragi was originally a hymn of prayer by the gold miners to soften (yawarageru) the heart of the god of the mountain and make the mine gentle and yielding. The ritual is performed by a master and four mineworkers, each of whom wears a mask (hanakirimen) to hide half of his face. The master also wears old ceremonial garb made of straw bags (kamasu) and a bird hat, and carries Shinto offerings of cut paper (heisoku) , while the mineworkers are dressed in a deep blue happi jacket patterned with splashes and stripes and tight-fitting trousers with a hemp sash. Around their waist is a hammer called a setto, with holders for the heisoku offerings and they wear straw sandals. A basket on their heads completes the ensemble. This is one of Shinto's most peculiar-looking rituals.
Firework displays held all over the island to mark the summer festival are enlivened by local color with folk songs, bon-odori (lantern festival dances) and folk entertainments. In July and August the night sky is lit up by many firework spectacles including the 100-year old festival called the Ryotsu kawabiraki (commemoration of the opening of the Ryotsu habor) , combined with the Star Festival, called Tanabata, the Sawada Firework Display where the fireworks are set off in time to music, and the Ogi Firework Show with sanjyaku-dama (a huge firework with the diameter of 650m) .