Aside from the mountains, Sado does not have much snow. However, this time of year brings dancing snowflakes and village trees and roofs are dusted with white powder. New Year in Sado, which is celebrated amid such scenery, keeps alive many old customs from the preparations to the events themselves. Here you will feel nostalgia for old Japan which has practically disappeared elsewhere.
Sado's seaweed and edible wild plants wake up as the snow melts. From seaweeds like nagamo and ginbaso (sargassum horneri) , to edible wild plants like fukinoto (butterbur sprout) , warabi (bracken) and kogome (ostrich fern) , all sorts of spring flavors are available and the island suddenly bursts into color. There is a sense of exuberance in the air as nature comes to life again and festivals are held all over the island.
This is when you will see the raging waves for which the Japan Sea is famous. The roar of the crashing waves displays the tempestuousness of the natural world. Sometimes "wave flowers" spring out of the waves beating against the bare rock and float in the wind. However, the Japan Sea is not only stormy. It also brings us good things to eat, including far winter buri (Japanese amberjack) which can be savored in many different ways in Sado's local cuisine. Oysters caught in Mano Harbor and Lake Kamoko are also at their best in winter. Boiled or grilled, they have a unique flavor.
Sado's charms are to be found everywhere: on the sea, in the mountains, and on the plains. These charms are particularly spectacular in autumn. Sado is famous for its rice and at this season you can see why, as a ripe, golden carpet of rice spreads across the plains. The mountains too, red and gold and lit by autumn sunlight, are the very epitome of the "hills of home."
As the air grows colder the taste gets better, as gourmets would say. This is the peak season for harvesting okesa kaki (persimmon) and apples. Even nowadays you can still see the nostalgic sight of kaki hanging from the eaves to dry. Though Sado is deservedly famous for its rice, it is less well known for its soba (noodle) which is of equally high quality. These noodles are made of 100 per cent buckwheat flour, without any filler. The simple, earthy taste make these soba from new flour a real delicacy. It is also now that the boats start to land hauls of crabs and prawns, reputed as some of the most delicious seafood available.
Summer festivals such as firework displays and bon-odori dances are held all over the island, with Okesa (folk songs) and traditional local musicto whip up the atmosphere. It is now that people begin to be aware of the passing of summer. The "Earth Celebration", produced by the world-famous Kodo drummers and many guest performers, is also held each year around this time. Tourists from Japan and other countries transform Sado's Ogi district into an exotic land.
Hills and fields are a mass of flowers. Rare wild grasses, carpeting the Osado mountain range, offer a warm welcome to climbers. From around June, with the approach of summer, the soft dancing lights of fireflies light up the night sky around the island. Festivals are held in towns and villages and the whole island takes on the colors of traditional entertainments with demon drums, lion dances and other entertainments handed down from time immemorial. Sado is also famous for Noh theater. From now until autumn, Noh dancing can be seen on Noh stages around the island. Takigi Noh, performed at night by firelight, brings to life the world of phantoms.
The sea around Sado is calm at this time of year and the island is proud of the exceptional transparency of the water. Sea bathing is very popular. A favorite summer sight is the lights on the sea at night used by squid fishing boats to lure their catch. Of the different varieties of squid caught all year round off Sado, these June maika (sagittated calamary) are the tastiest, ideal for cutting in thin strips as squid noodles. Abalone and mollusks are other summer treats. You will find them as sashimi (sliced raw fish) or tsuboyaki (baked in a pot) wherever you go. Another typical Sado delicacy is ayu no ishiyaki (fresh-water trout grilled on a stone) .