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Did you know Sado island is an island full of nature and histories where you can go there only about 4 hours from Tokyo or Kanazawa by JR Shinkansen and ferry ride? Its landscapes are incredibly diverse with stunning cliffs along the shoreline, beautiful forests, rice paddies, fishing villages and mountains. Because of a long and tragic history as the island of exiles, Sado island has been able to preserve its own culture through the generations. Some of the traditions on Sado Island are unique to this island. There are many festivals (matsuri in Japanese) throughout the year on Sado island which adds a lively atmosphere to this natural and stunning wild landscape. In this article, I would like to introduce all the useful information needed to organize your trip to Sado island.

For example, if you are around Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka area, take the bullet train (Shinkansen) to Niigata then take a ferry to Sado island. Or you are staying in Kanazawa or Nagano area, you can also take the bullet train bound for Joetsumyoukou, then take a ferry at Naoetsu port. In this article, let us introduce the best way to go to Sado island!

Otsugame is one of the stunning nature where you can see in Sado island, Niigata, Japan.
Futatsugame is one of the stunning nature where you can see in Sado island, Niigata, Japan.
Yoi No Masturi on Sado Island, Niigata, Japan
tub boat riding on Sado island, Niigata, Japan
5 pagoda at Myosenji temple on Sado island, Niigata, Japan

How to Get to Niigata from Tokyo?

By Train

From Tokyo Station, you can take the Joetsu Shinkansen (bullet train) to Niigata Station. MAX Toki goes to Niigata directly and it takes about 2 hours from Tokyo Station. Valid with JR pass. If you are not a Japan Rail Pass holder, the price of a one-way ticket is ¥ 10,570.

MAX Toki Shinkansen on Joetsu line take you Niigata directly from Tokyo station, Japan.


How to Get to Niigata From Kanazawa, Nagano, Kyoto, Osaka

Two ferry routes are available. Niigata port is the main ferry terminal, and there is also another ferry terminal which  starts from Naoetsu. Depending on your current location, it might be preferable to take the ferry not from Niigata but from Naoetsu(the nearest Shinkansen station is Joetsumyokou). Also please be advised that you have to check the ferry schedule in advance!

From Kanazawa

Take the Hokuriku shinkansen from Kanazawa to Joetsumyokou station for about one hour then take a local bus to Naoetsu port which takes you about 30 minutes. However, Naotsu-Ogi line is closed for winter. Please check out the detailed from here.

From Nagano

Take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Nagano station to Joetsumyokou station for 20 minutes then take a local bus to Naoetsu port which takes you about 30 minutes. From Naoetsu, you can take the ferry to Ogi port.

From Kyoto

Take the Tokaido Shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo, then change trains to Niigata station by Joetsu Shinkansen. It will be a long way to go, but it is covered by the JR Pass. If you don’t have a JR Pass, the fee is around ¥21,590 and the total trip time takes 4hours and 29 minutes.

From Osaka

Take Tokaido Shinkansen from Shinoksaka to Tokyo, then change trains to Niigata station by Joetsu Shinkansen. It will be a long way to go, but JR pass will be covered. If not, the fee would be ¥21,910 and 4hours 44 minutes.

Or, you can go to Kansai International Airport to use Japan Explore Pass or ANA Experience JAPAN Fare for ¥10,800. In this way, it would be much cheaper!

How to Get to Niigata Port from Niigata Station?

Niigata port is located 3 km away from Niigata station. You can take either the local bus or a taxi depending on your arrival time and budget.

Upon your arrival at Niigata station, go to the Bandai exit to go to Niigata Sado Kisen ferry port, the local bus takes about 10-15minutes and it costs you ¥210.

Alternatively, you can take a taxi. You will see the taxi pool just outside of the Bandai exit, and it will cost you around ¥1,000 – ¥1,200.


Take the Ferry to Sado Island

Two Ferry Options to Go to Sado Island

Niigata – Ryotsu

The Sado Kisen ferry operates six times per day from Niigata port. The travel time is about 2.5hours. There are other options which take you there in under 65 minutes. Here is the information about the jetfoil.

If you take the normal ferry, the second class fee is ¥2,250. 

On the ferry, there are many seating options. A second class ticket offers a choice of seats once you arrive on the boat. You can choose to sit in a normal seat or the Japanese style option! A room where you sit or lie down directly on the floor !!!

The first class allows you a place to sit in a designated room with comfortable chairs.

You can find the timetables and seasonal rates for 2017 here.

Ferry terminal at Niigata port
Second class seat of Sado Kisen Ferry
Second class seat of Sado Kisen Ferry
Ferry terminal to Sado island, Niigata
Sado Kisen ferry to Sado island
Sea of Japan where I saw from Sado Kisen Ferry
Second class seat of Sado Kisen Ferry

Naoetsu(JoetsuMyokou) – Ogi

From Naoestu, 90 km sourthern part of Niigata, there is three ferries available bound for Ogi port per day, and which takes about 2.5 hours too. If you want to try the different route, it is worth an experience! You can find the schedules and rates of 2017 from here.

Sado Kisen ferry which goes to Sado island from Niigata mainland
Ferry terminal at Niigata
The first class seat at Sado Kisen Ferry
The first class seat at Sado Kisen Ferry

How to Get around in Sado Island?

Sado island is a fairly large island. There are multiple ways to get around by public transportation. You can take the local bus, a tourist bus, a taxi or even rent a car. It all depends on you! Taking a car is obviously the most comfortable way to travel on the island because you are free to stop when you want.

When you get off at the Ryotsu ferry port,  you can find the tourist information office on the second floor in the ferry terminal building. You should ask for maps and bus timetables!

Tourist buses

The tourist bus leaves from Ryotsu port or Ogi port. You can take the tour for a day or a half day. There are five different circuits available. The tour-bus has a route that takes you to the key points of the island.


If you are traveling in a small group and want to travel more comfortably rather than taking public transportation, a tourist taxi could be the most effective option for exploring Sado island. Ask for information at the tourist information office or talk to a licensed taxi driver (who also works as a guide).

Local Buses

Sado island has a network of local buses. Buses stop at most tourist attractions but services are limited on weekends and during national holidays. Buses also tend to operate less frequently especially if the weather is bad …. All the info is available on the island’s website.

Rent a Car

Renting a car can be quite expensive, but it allows you to explore Sado island at your own pace, allowing you to choose the places and attractions you want to visit. Personally, I prefer exploring the island by these means of transportation because I can stop if I want to see the beautiful scenery along the roads! Cost ranges from ¥6,000 to ¥10,000 per day depending on the size of the rented car. Sado Kisen Car Rental at the ferry terminal is the agency where we rented a car. Most of the time, when you go to rent a car, you will not have to pay to refill the fuel. There is a system per kilometer, so you don’t have to worry about finding a gas station. If you go around the island, you have the option to drop off the car at the another port. For example, if you arrive at Ryotsu you can rent a taxi there, and if you are planning to leave from Ogi port, you can drop the car off there.


Rent a Bike

Bikes are also an option to explore the island at your own speed. There are also electric bikes available to help with the many hills and slopes that exist on Sado island. The information center will offer you the choice of electric bike when you ask for a rental.  (¥2,000 / day or ¥500 the two hours …)

Summary :

You are now ready to discover Sado island, and experience the unique stories, culture and amazing nature!

Sado Official Tourist Infomation

Need more information? You can find up to date information about Sado Island’s history, sightseeing locations, accommodations, food, and transportation here.

Original article by : Estelle

Translated by: Aika Ikeda



Je m'appelle Estelle, je suis française et je vis au Japon depuis novembre dernier grâce au Working Holidays Visa. J'adore découvrir le Japon et tous ses endroits secrets ! Suivez moi !


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