This piece stems from a folk song of Niigata. Its melody was probably brought from Kyushi, the southernmost island; many similar melodies were set to different words and are familiar to today's listeners. Sado kesa describes the small island of Sado where criminals were transported.
Near the Japan Sea coast of the middle part of the Japanese mainland there is a small island called Sado Island. In the old days it was famous for being an exiles' island and for its gold mine. Sado-Okesa is the most popular song among the people of this island. In the Bon Festival in summer the islanders form a circle and sing this song, dancing elegantly. The Festival is a traditional Japanese event when the dead's souls were once believed to return to this world. In the present days the festival still exists as a kind of recreation. The above-mentioned Awa-Odori and Kiso-Bushi, too, are danced in this festival.