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Isle of Exile | by dai oni
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Isle of Exile

Many of the images in this set are from Sadogashima (Sado Island). Although I've lived in Kobe for a longer time, Sado was my home during my first three years in Japan. It's a unique place, and I still regard it as my Japanese ふるさと (hometown).

 

It has a fascinating history, much of which revolves around its status as an 'isle of exile'. According to wikipedia:

 

"When direct control from mainland Japan started around the 8th century, due to its remoteness, the island soon became a place of banishment for difficult or inconvenient Japanese figures. Exile to remote locations such as Sado was a very serious punishment, second only to the death penalty, and people were not expected to return.

 

The earliest known dissident to be condemned to exile on Sadogashima was a poet, Hozumi no Asomioyu. He was sent to the island in 722, reportedly for having criticized the Emperor. The former Emperor Juntoku was sent to Sado after his role in the Jōkyū War of 1221. The disgraced Emperor survived twenty years on the island before his death; and because he was sent to Sado, this emperor is known posthumously as Sado-no-in (佐渡院). He is buried in the Mano Goryo mausoleum on the west coast. The Buddhist monk Nichiren Daishonin was sent to Sado for three years before his 1274 pardon. The Noh dramatist Zeami Motokiyo was exiled on unspecified charges in 1434. The last banishment in Sado took place in 1700, almost a millennium after the first."

 

In many ways it was my own isle of exile, but in a (mostly) very positive way.

 

This image shows one of the many little shrines that can be found just offshore, on rocky outcroppings. To me, it encapsulates the barren and isolated notion of island exile.

 

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Taken on November 24, 2003