Sakata is small port-town located in Yamagata Prefecture. Although not very popular for tourism among foreigners, you can find many things to see here: let’s begin!
What’s special about Sakata?
Sakata is a 20.000 inhabitants city facing on the Sea of Japan. It is a place very far from main cities and globalized Japan: therefore it might represent the perfect spot for those who are seeking a quite more “authentic” experience.
The city has a rich past, due to its position on the coast. During the past centuries its economy flourished thanks to the trade with cities such as Kyōto.
A Reminder of those times is the 1:2 scale reproduction of a Sengoku era ship you can see at Hiyoriyama Park.
The old lighthouse is also a proof of Sakata’s profitable trades via sea.
Honma Museum faces a gorgeous Japanese garden, whose view is also enjoyable from the room where Emperor Hirohito slept during a visit to the city.
The true symbol of Sakata city anyway, are the Sankyosōko store-houses: this is a building complex built in 1893 to store rice.
They keep their function even today, but they also host souvenir shops now.
A “small” hidden treasure is the Great Buddha of the Chiji-in temple, which is truly magnificent.
Sakata hosts also some of the locations used to shoot the movie “Okuribito (Departures)” (which won the Oscar as best foreign movie in 2009).
These spots are easily recognizable thanks to the signs exposed nearby.
How to get to Sakata
To see how to reach Sakata, click on this link.
My impression of Sakata
I spent in Sakata three weeks during a culture exchange program while I was in high school.
The host family’s house was in the middle of the countryside, but this gave me the chance to behold the landscape from the train everyday: a large amount of rice fields extended up to Mt. Chōkai’s feet. This is one of the Three Mountains of Dewa (together with mt. Haguro) and also, an active volcano.
This little city with just a few foreigners really impressed me. It seems to be back in time.
The day I got a bicycle from the school I went to Hiyoriyama Park to enjoy the view on the city from the light house area. The colors of the sea and the volcano where amazingly alike!
Even if it is a bit hard to reach by public transportation, I would like to spend some words for the village of Matsuyama, south-east from the city.
Here a castle took place whose main gate, called Oote-mon, still remains. The museum close to it hosts weapons and armors used in the battles for the control of this region.
This is a small paradise for those who like Japanese history.
In spring, historical re-enactment are held under the cherry trees.
I am very attached to Sakata, I spent here some of the best weeks of my teenage. I would like more people to enjoy what this small port-town of Tōhoku has to offer.