NHK WORLD > NHK WORLD TV > Journeys in Japan

Tue, Jun. 23, 2015 SADO ISLAND: Behind the Mask Dance
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Contemporary dancer Alessandra Lupi visits Sado Island to study the powerful Onidaiko demon dance. The traditional performing art is offered to the gods to pray for peace and abundant harvests.

Alessandra also experiences the traditional lifestyle of the region. She stays in a charming inn converted from an old home, tries rice farming and meets apprentices of Kodo, the renowned drumming ensemble.

During her journey, she comes to feel how closely the Onidaiko performing art is connected to the local way of life. On the last day of her journey, Alessandra is bestowed with an honor that is most unexpected…

Sado Kisen
Sado Kisen
Sado Island is serviced by car ferry and speed boat from Niigata Port.
You can reserve seats online or over the telephone.
TEL: +81(0) 25-245-1234
Cost: ¥2510~ (car ferry) ¥6520 (speed boat)
Onidaiko/ Sado Tourism Association
Onidaiko/ Sado Tourism Association
Every village hosts an Onidaiko performance on festival days.
Please check the Sado Tourism Association’s website for schedules.
Address: 2F Ryotsu Port. Terminal Bldg. 353 Ryotsu-minato, Sado, Niigata Pref.
TEL: +81(0) 259-27-5000
Tarai-bune tub boat
Tarai-bune tub boat
Take a short trip on a traditional fishing boat.
Address: 184 Ogi-machi, Sado, Niigata Pref.
TEL: +81(0) 259-86-3153
Cost: ¥500(Adult)
Hanano-ki inn
Hanano-ki inn
Enjoy a stay in a converted 170 year-old home. All rooms have beautiful views. Meals, featuring local ingredients, are excellent.
Address: 78-1 Shukunegi, Sado, Niigata Pref.
TEL: +81(0) 259-86-2331
Kodo/ Kodo Apprentice Center
Kodo/ Kodo Apprentice Center
Kodo, Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble, explores the limitless potential of rhythmic percussion. They have been performing worldwide since 1981.  Please visit the company's website for the coming performance and workshop schedules.
Address: Kodo Village, 148-1 Ogi Kanetashinden, Sado, Niigata
TEL: +81(0) 259-86-3630 (in Japanese only)
To reach Sado from Tokyo, it takes 2 hours by Shinkansen bullet train to Niigata. From Niigata Port it takes 2.5 hours by car ferry and 1 hour by speed boat to the island.
Travel Log

Traveler: Alessandra Lupi > More Info


Occupation:Dancer & Model

Length of residence in Japan:3 years

I came here to learn Japanese language and culture.

Traveler's Archives:

> Kagura: Dancing Beyond Time

I returned from my Sado journey filled with strong emotions. I felt an immediate bond with the people of the island—their world, their reality—even though they are different from mine. Eventually they returned the affection, welcoming me and letting me join in their activities. They have a very strong sense of community: every single village has its own traditions; even the Onidaiko dance and costumes slightly differ from team to team. The people are protective and close to each other, but very passionate and welcoming if you open your heart to them. I was immensely proud and honored to be part of their community. Perhaps because I come from an island, too, I can feel their dual sentiment of attachment to tradition and strong curiosity for the external world. It's an awareness that change is constant, but preserving the spirit is important. During my journey many people helped me to find answers about the reason of dance and being a performance art professional in general. They did not just give me technical advice, but also shared their lives with me, helping me to understand the background I needed for dancing not only with my body but with my heart, too.

Inside Story

Yoko Urago

It was such an exquisite time. Not only I was able to get to know the Sado culture but I also I had connected with the people there. Not just me but with my international crew from Ireland, NZ, and Italy.

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