Sado Island is an island off the coast of Niigata. Long a remote place of exile for political dissidents, including a deposed monarch, Emperor Juntoku, and the buddhist monk Nichiren, Sado experienced a boom during the Edo era when gold was found at Aikawa. A major source of revenue for the Tokugawa shogunate, the mines were worked in horrific conditions by what amounted to slave labor, consisting of homeless people rounded up from the mainland. Despite this grim history, today's Sado is a pleasant summer getaway of rocky coasts, green hills and quaint fishing ports, with a permanent population of just over 60,000.
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