Popular for its stunning natural scenery, green hills and cliffs dotted with strange shaped rocks and small islands, Sado Island also has an interesting, though dark history. Because of its relatively secluded location, the island was used as a place of political exile for elements showing a tendency to oppose the system in power. Some of the most famous people sent to exile on Sado include Hozumi no Asomi Oyu, a poet who made the mistake of criticizing the Emperor, Buddhist Monk Nichiren Daishonin, the founder of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism, and Zeami Motokiyo, a dramatist and founder of Noh theatre, was sent into exile for no particular known reason.

In the early Edo period, however, gold and silver were discovered on Sado island, and the significance of the island changed dramatically. More and more people, mostly homeless people from cities, were sent here to work under rather harsh conditions. The gold they extracted became a major source of revenue for the Tokugawa shogunate.

Today Sado is best known as the home of world renowned taiko drumming group Kodo. Their annual Earth Celebration is a 3 day music festival which attracts thousands of people from all over Japan and the rest of the world.