Sakata City, Yamagata

The port city reached the peak of its prosperity with “the westward sea route” during the Edo period. From Sakata, Dewa safflowers and rice were loaded on the ships. Cultural products from Kyoto, such as hina dolls and Kyo-Yuzen dyed with safflower were carried on the return ships. In Sakata, the Abumiya family was known as “the northern nation’s number-one rice merchant”. In Saikaku there was the “Nippon Eitai-gura” and the houses of the Honma family, who became the largest landowners in Japan through the Kitamae-bune trading. The elegant atmosphere of the high-class culture remains.

  • ports of call

Cultural Properties of Sakata City

  • Hiyoriyama Park

    The place where the sailors of Kitamae-bune forecast the weather before departing. it is a small mountain overlooking the harbor, which had a lighthouse and directional/guiding stones.

  • Former Mr Abumiya

    A house and shop of Mr Abumiya, who was a small-cargo vessel wholesaler who made his made wealth through Kitamae-bune.

  • The Main House of the Honma Family

    The main house of a wealthy merchant. The Honma family became wealthy through Kitamae-bune.

  • Sanno Club

    A Japanese restaurant used by shipowners and merchants of Kitamae-bune

  • The Main House of Somaya

    A Japanese restaurant used by shipowners and merchants of Kitamae-bune.

  • Second House and Garden of the Honma Family (Kakubuen)

    This is a style of garden that features a path around a pond, made with inscription stones carried by Kitamae-bune from various places. It was built for good luck to ward off unemployment for port workers during the winter season.

  • Saido Painting Curtain (Osuwari Grand Festival) ― Honorable Religious Feast of Prince Sakai

    A painted curtain depicting a scene of Sakata port, which prospered because of Kitamae-bune.

  • Kamekasaboko (A Decorative Turtle Float) for the Sakata Sanno Festival

    The Honma family were wealthy merchants who became rich through Kitamae-bune and by requesting Kyoto puppet-makers to make puppets which were shipped by Kitamae-bune.

  • A Painting of Sakata Sodenoura and Koyanohama

    A painting showing a scene of Sakata port, which prospered through Kitamae-bune.

  • Hina-meguri

    Cultural products that were carried on Kitamae-bune, such as these high-quality hina dolls.

  • Sankyo Warehouses

    A symbol of Sakata - rice storage warehouses that were built in 1898. On these premises is the Sakata Municipal Tourism Bureau, Sakata Yume no Kuraku, and the Shonai Rice Historical Museum.