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Largest City

Sado Island’s Tarai Bune Rides

A boating experience straight out of a ‘Spirited Away’ scene

On the coast of Sado Island is an activity that drops you right into the storyline of a Studio Ghibli film. Even if you’re not familiar with this scene in the anime “Spirited Away,” head to Niigata Prefecture for a Japan-centric trip on a tarai bune (traditional washtub boat).

After boarding the small but sturdy boat, in rain, snow or sunshine, you’ll be surrounded by turquoise water. Experience one of Sado Island’s rich traditions,  as the tubs are used for catching abalone and mollusks.

Why a washtub, you ask?

Actually, their use came from a need to fish in very narrow and winding coves in the area. First used in the Meiji Period, starting in 1868, the boat’s durable design makes it more easily maneuvered than a traditional type. Now-a-days, the tubs hold 1-2 people, plus a steerer.

Photo by: © JNTO Tub boat rides cost ¥500.

Ogi Area Highlights

Tourists can take a 7- to-8-minute guided boat ride for ¥500. A popular place to take off is near Ogi Port in Ogi Town, with hours from 8:20 a.m. to about 5 p.m., depending on the season.

But the fun’s not done yet. This area of Sado Island (the second largest island in Japan, excluding the four main islands) has a few more charming highlights.

First up is Ogi Town’s Earth Celebration, a festival held for three days in late August that puts global culture and international music in the forefront. There’s also Sobama Beach and campground, as well as Shukunegi, a peaceful ship-building village.

For more info, check out the Ogi Tourist Information Center.

Things To Know

About Sado Island

Accented by its mountainous terrain and a rocky shoreline, Sado Island shows off Japan’s seasonal bests. While it doesn’t have any train service, travelers can navigate the island via local bus, a tour bus, taxi, or even renting a car, motorbike or bicycle. It’s located about 2- to- 2.5 hours by ferry from Niigata City.


¥500 for adults.

How To Get There


Japan, 〒952-0604 Niigata-ken, Sado-shi, Ogimachi, 1950

By bus

Take the main line bound for Aikawa from Ryotsu to Sawata for about 40 minutes, and transfer to the Ogi Line for Ogi for about one hour .

By car

Go toward Ogi from Ryotsu Port along Prefectural Road 65 via National Road 350. A one-hour drive.

By boat

Reachable with a one-hour jetfoil or twoish-hour ferry from Niigata City.

By foot

A 5-minute walk from Ogi Port.

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