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Sado’s northern promontory contains the island’s highest mountains and some of its best coastal scenery. Aikawa, the only settlement of any size in this area, was once a lively mining town whose gold and silver ores filled the shoguns’ coffers. The mines are no longer working, but a section of tunnel has been converted into a museum, Sado Kinzan, where yet more computerized robots show how things were done in olden times. North of Aikawa there’s the rather overrated Senkaku-wan, a small stretch of picturesque cliffs; it’s better to head on up the wild Soto-kaifu coast to Hajiki-zaki on the island’s northern tip. Not surprisingly, this area isn’t well served by public transport, particularly in winter when snow blocks the mountain passes; to explore this part of the island you really need to rent a car or be prepared to do a lot of cycling.

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