More Travels with Tani Featured

Published in TJ Expert  

More Travels with Tani

In post-occupation Japan, Donald Richie travels with a good friend to Sado, the land of exile.

May 2, 1955. On the steamer from Niigata to Sado Island, Tani and I lie on the tatami in the big second-class salon. We have just been given tea and the ship is already rolling. Overhead, the loud-speakers are pouring out recorded folksongs from fabled Sado and the decks are filled. So is the tatami. I had my feet on someone’s open book.

We left Tokyo yesterday at noon for no reason other than we wanted to, and in six hours we had crossed the island, gone over the still snow-bound mountains, and gently descended to the plains by the Sea of Japan. Ah, the motion of the boat has already lulled Tani to sleep.

At Aikawa. Sado is much larger than I had thought. The bus trip across it took almost two hours. And it, too, had high snowy mountains, as well as streams and lakes. It’s not much like an island except that you can see the sea more often.

Tani is impressed by its resemblance to his part of the country near Nara, and conversations on the bus indicate that, indeed, almost everything on the island came from Kansai. I look from the window and recognize the architecture, the shape of the fields.

Sado is pleasingly primitive and, considering its fame, it is still not touristy. The towns remind me of Calabrian villages. They are that casually put together. Ryōtsu, where we landed, could have been a village on the Adriatic Sea.


The complete article can be found in Issue #281 of the Tokyo Journal.

Written By:

Donald Richie

Donald Richie is first honorable visit to Japan took place in 1947. Since that time he became a celebrated film critic, author and composer, not to mention a journalist of many talents recording the changes of over half a century of life in Tokyo. Donald Richie contributed to the Tokyo Journal over the years and when asked about times in the nineties, Donald replied, Frightening but exhilarating. I think everybody with a pencil should be out there taking notes. Mr. Richie passed away in 2013.


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