The Sado Island Galaxy Art Festival: Bringing art to Sado’s ports


Over the centuries, Sado Island off the northern coast of Japan’s Niigata Prefecture was a remote exile site and the location of one of Japan’s largest gold mines. These days, the beautiful bucolic community has become a hidden travel destination gem, welcoming visitors to the annual Sado Island Galaxy Art Festival.

Ryotsu Port, the primary gateway for visitors arriving by ferry, hosts the majority of the installations, but not all of them. Others can be found at historical buildings and scenic sites of the natural landscape elsewhere on the island, rewarding those who take the time to venture further into a part of Japan most tourists never see.

The Galaxy Art Festival is more than a purely visual celebration of the arts, too, as the program has included Sado’s unique folk songs and “onidaiko,” a dance and drum performance by a masked musician dressed as an oni, a ferocious demon or ogre from Japanese folklore. This “demon drumming” is a Sado tradition that dates back centuries as a means of warding off evil and giving thanks for good harvests, making it a perfect fit for the Galaxy Art Festival, whose goal is to introduce and preserve the island’s culture.


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