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So today we’re racing across the Sea of Japan towards Sado Island, Japan’s 6th biggest
island, about 80km off the coast of Niigata.
As always I’m joined by my good friend Ryotaro on this trip.
Have you been to Sado Island before?
Yes when I was 10.
What about 60 years ago?
No 33 years ago to be accurate.
It might be 80km away into the sea of Japan, but Sado Island has played an important role
in Japanese history, as both a place of exile and Japan’s primary source of gold.
We’re off on a two day trip to explore the island, from it’s fresh local cuisine, to
it’s stunning temples and beaches.
But our first stop is the goldmine that once drove the island’s economy and funded the
Japanese government for several centuries.
A goldmine which, today, is inhabited by dozens of terrifying robots.
From the future
In Tokyo you can go to Robot restaurant, but in Sado you can go to a robot mine.
We’re the only ones down here because it’s off-peak season, so there’s not many people around.
But there are hundreds of robots working their way through the mine, hammering away.
It’s impressive but it’s also a little bit creepy as they’re made so well, that
they’re almost life-like.
This guy here, he’s timbering.
But he’s missing.
He’s not doing a very good job is he.
He’s smiling but he’s missing.
I’d have him fired.
There’s no two ways about it.
Look at him.
As well as being genuinely terrifying, the robots helps to put the grim reality of life
in the mine in perspective.
Open from 1601 to 1989, 78 tons of gold and 2,300 tons of silver were successfully mined
during it’s 388 years of operation.
There’s around 400km of mining tunnels at the Goldmine and the mine has led to one of
Sado’s most iconic sights; the mountain above the mine has had the center visibly
excavated over the centuries, to look, like Pacman’s mouth.
But looking at the terraformed mountain really helps you to appreciate the mining operations
sense of scale.
After visiting the mine we decided to go panning for some gold of our own.
And the power hungry Ryotaro didn’t waste time trying to unearth some new found wealth.
Try to make the gold sink to the bottom.
Your’e trying really hard.
Yes.
It only took 25 minutes.
How many?
Three.
Didn’t you hear me.
Three.
How are you going to spend your new found wealth?
Big mac.
There wasn’t even any deliberation.
You remind me a bit of Gollum when he found the ring, the way you’re looking at that gold.
After Ryotaro had become rich beyond his wildest dreams, we headed inland, to one of Sado’s
oldest and most secluded temples, dating back over 1,200 years.
Like a poor man’s Emperor.
If you were Emperor what would you be called?
Ryohito.
Ryohito!
Man of the people.
What would you call yourself if you were King.
Chris the third.
Chris the first.
So why does this place look so much like Kiyomizudera in Kyoto.
There was monk in the year 808 who came over here and met the people who were exiled and
the normal local people.
He realised it must have been very hard for people to travel to Kyoto, as back then it
took weeks.
Well they didn’t have buses.
Exactly.
So they actually built a smaller version of Kiyomizu dera temple.
If you can’t join them, beat them.
Build your own temple.
Exactly.
Just build it.
It’s a faithful replica though, albeit a lot quieter than Kiyomizu dera temple.
The one in Kyoto has millions of tourists, but here I don’t find anyone other than
us.
Yeah it’s nice to be at a temple and not have the sound of iPhone camera shutters going
off every five seconds.
Sado is also home to Niigata prefectures only five storey pagoda, which two generations
of carpenters 30 years to craft and construct.
And once again, we’ve got the whole place to ourselves.
Before heading out to dinner, we check in to our hotel for an hour.
It always amazes me how quickly humans go into a nice clean tidy hotel room and do this.
Just fill it full of junk.
And here’s the main culprit himself.
For dinner, we’re lucky to visit one of Sado islands best restaurants called Seisuke
Next door.
Looking very smart today.
A handsome young man.
Well, handsome old man.
Unlike you.
With your $5 dollar sweatshirts and $20 jeans from Camden market.
Camden market?
This is what the youth of today wear.
It’s cool.
Youth of today?
I think you’ve got the wrong definition of the youth of today.
The beloved viewers of this channel will back me up that this is great.
No they’ll backfire you for god’s sake.
They’ll backfire me?
What does that even mean.
Tonight we’re in good hands.
Restaurant Seisuke’s chef, Chef Kuniaki Osaki, is one Sado Island’s best chefs,
having trained at a 3 michelin star restaurant in France.
He takes great pride in the fresh locally sourced ingredients; even the bottled war
is collected by Chef Osaki himself from one of Sado’s many natural springs.
Oh my god.
Wow
It’s on a rock.
It’s on wood and rock.
Wow.
You know the food’s going to be good when it comes out on a rock and a tree.
It’s always a good sign.
Ok, now food report.
Food report.
Excellent.
I can’t talk.
It’s the sparkling wine.
It’s an interesting, exciting mix of textures.
The crunchiness of the bread, the softness of the cheese, the succulent texture of the
cod.
You’re getting better!
(FINAL SECTION OF VIDEO SCRIPT - below)
It smells fantastic, the mushrooms in particular.
It’s the mushrooms sauce isn’t it.
The fish is very soft but it’s got the bouncy texture to it.
The bouncy texture?
And you ridicule me for my food criticisms.
I’ve never referred to a fish as bouncy.
It’s very bouncy, what a muppet.
It’s bouncy isn’t it!
It’s very good though, the fish is very tender.
This is sake kasu sauce.
People are going to start thinking that this channel is just based on beef, which I don’t
have a problem with.
Apart from the fact vegans probably hate me.
So come on food critic does it melt in your mouth?
We’re not using that phrase ever again.
Although it does melt in your mouth.
This is honestly one of the best cuts of beef I’ve had.
This is Sado beef.
It’s quite rare you can only get it here.
Beef that you can only get on Sado Island.
Yeah because of the number of cows.
It’s certainly less fatty that Kobe beef, which I can’t eat because it’s too fatty.
This is amazing.
We might as well rename this channel to the Beef channel.
Beef in Japan.
Cheese, salmon, butter, citrus fruit, potato salad and ham.
It’s a pretty exquisite little breakfast.
Now we’re talking.
Eggs and bacon.
The only thing we’re missing now is sausages.
Nice big British pork sausages.
That would downgrade the whole thing you know.
Downgrade it?
I mean with German sausages it’d be perfect.
Please ask the Germans.
German people please write.
British sausages are better.
There can be no debate.
I’m not against German sausages, but British sausages the pork is better quality.
Have you lived in the UK?
Bloody 4 years.
Have you lived in Germany?
Bloody two and a half years.
So I can seriously compare.
And unfortunately I prefer German sausages.
Why?
Because they taste better.
You’re just trying to annoy me.
Shut up and eat your luxurious premium breakfast.
When you leave a Japanese hotel, a lot of the staff often come out the front like this.
It’s great.
A bit awkward but very nice.
Thank you.
Very nice staff.
And then they’ll stand there waving until the car is out of sight.
One time we drove down the road for a kilometre and they were just standing there waving in
the distance.
From the hotel, me and Mr Sausages went on to Sado island’s most stunning beach, on
the far northern tip of the island.
The beach is unique for stretching out into the sea and this rare feature, along with
the crystal clear waters, had been awarded two stars by Michelin’s Green guide, as
well as being selected as one of the top bathing spots in the whole of Japan - albeit probably
not in the month of March.
It’s got a bit of an edge of the world view going on.
Maybe it’s the cool sharp rocks jutting out into the sea or maybe it’s the fact
we’re on a beach that has the sea either side of it.
It’s quite bizarre.
A Michelin star beach.
A Michelin Green star beach.
It’d be a great barbecue spot.
It’s a Michelin two star beach, you can’t really do a barbecue here.
Well you can.
What do you mean?
I’m having my barbecue here.
Barbecue, burgers and sausages all around.
You can’t do that.
You’re going to grill the whole British sausages, which are odd compared to German
sausages.
He’s always looking for a fight isn’t he?
What would you rather have this or this.
British sausages on this beach.
Bring them to Sado.
Sit on the beach.
Enjoy the beach.
Swim in the water.
British and German sausages just simply do not match.
Sado Island is a great little get away for those looking for a weekend away from Tokyo.
Best enjoyed outside of the winter months, it’s pretty easy to reach, with just a two
hour bullet train ride from Tokyo to Niigata and then an hour long boat ride across the
sea of Japan.
For more information on the places we visited you can find the details in the description
box below.
Sado surprised me.
It was a pretty nice little island.
For me the highlight though had to be the robot miners from the future who will inevitably
take over the world.
How about you, what was your highlight?
My highlight will be exchanging this with three
Big Macs.
Three Big macs?
A little bit ambitious.
No, no, no.
I’m talking reality here.
I’m talking reality here?
All right good luck with that.
Thanks.
What a muppet.