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Why Was Sado Island in Japan Known As ‘the Land of Gold’?

In the 1600s, Japan produced nearly a fifth of the world’s gold and nearly half of that came from Sado. In this episode of Focus, Euronews uncovers the charms of this mythical island.

Located west of the mainland in the Sea of Japan, Sado is Japan’s sixth-biggest island. This off-the-beaten-track destination is known for its fabulous seafood, stunning coastline and ancient temples. However, Sado is most famous for gold: During the Edo period, under Japan’s Shogunate rulers, huge amounts of gold were extracted from here.

Ishikawa Kimiko from Sado City’s World Heritage Promotion Division told Euronews: “41 tonnes of gold were extracted from the Sado gold mines during the Edo period, and it is said that 20 per cent of the world’s gold came from Japan around the beginning of the 17th century. Half of this Japanese gold was extracted here in Sado.”

Aikawa is one of the island’s most historic mines. The tunnels are estimated to stretch 400km – to put that into perspective, this is about the distance between Sado and Tokyo.

Japan’s government has nominated Aikawa and another of Sado’s mines, Nishimikawa, for UNESCO World Heritage status in a bid to showcase the mining techniques developed here between the late 16th and mid-19th centuries.

“The important thing about Sado is that even though in an age when other foreign countries were already mechanised, in Sado a large amount of high-quality gold was extracted through unmechanised handcrafted methods,” added Kimiko.

As a destination, Sado could get overlooked in favour of some of Japan’s more famous locations, but the island’s unique culture, natural beauty and historical role in shaping the fortunes of Japan make it one of the country’s best-kept secrets.

Source : Euronews