Due to its remote location, the island served as a destination for political exiles. The three most prominent figures sent into exile to Sado were the former Emperor Juntoku, the Buddhist monk Nichiren and the founder of Noh, Zeami Motokiyo. While the island is no longer a place of exile, traces of the culture and religion that these forced residents brought with them remain today.
Sado's biggest attraction is the Earth Celebration, an annual music festival hosted by Sado's own, world renowned Kodo taiko group. The island is also home to the endangered Japanese Ibis (toki), extinct in the wild but reintroduced to the island thanks to a successful breeding program.