Sakata is in Yamagata (prefecture). Due to its location on the Sea of Japan, the city has a large fishing industry. There is a fish market and many seafood restaurants, where one can enjoy freshly caught fish from the Sea of Japan.
Sakata is the third most populous city in Yamagata prefecture. It lies at the mouth of the Mogami River. This location allowed it to flourish thanks to a thriving safflower trade with the Kansai region during the Edo Period (1603-1868). During this time the city ranked among the most important port towns in all of Japan. An international port remains in the city, though its national importance has since diminished.
The city has been the shooting location for a number of film productions, most notably in 2008, when the Oscar winning film ‘Departures’ was filmed here.
The nearest airport is Shonai Airport, from which shuttle buses run to Sakata (30 minutes, ¥740). There are four daily flights from Tokyo Haneda International Airport.
Sakata is on the JR Uetsu Line which runs along the Sea of Japan. From Tokyo, Sakata is reachable in approximately four and a half hours by taking a Joetsu Shinkansen Toki or Max Toki service, and then changing in Niigata to one of several daily Inaho limited express trains. The Rikuu Main Line connects Sakata with Shinjo, the is the terminus for the Yamagata Shinkansen. From Shinjo, it takes approximately one hour.
Shonai Kotsu [dead link] runs an overnight bus, the Yuhi Express, from Shibuya and Ikebukuro in Tokyo to Sakata. It takes about 8 hours from Shibuya to Sakata. Shonai Kotsu also provides a daily bus service to Sendai. There are twelve daily departure times between 6:00am and 18:45pm. The journey lasts approximately 3 hours.
Many of the local sites can easily be visited on foot. Bicycle rentals (Rentacycles) are available at the Tourist Information Center at Sakata Station.
- 1 Domon Ken Photography Museum (土門拳記念館), 2-13, Iimoriyama. 09:00-16:30. Contains the complete collection of the Sakata born artist, Ken Domon. The museum also features temporary exhibitions from other photographers. Adult: ¥430; concessions: ¥210.
- 2 Honma Art Museum (本間美術館), 7-7, Onaricho. 09:00-16:30. The Honma Museum of Art is a converted old villa which once belonged to the Honma clan. The villa was used by the lords of the Sakai family in the Edo period, After Edo, it was used as a guesthouse of Sakata City. Some of the fine arts items in the museum's collection were donated by other clans in Japan, other furniture and fixings belonged to the Honma family. The museum has a garden from which Mount Chokai can be seen. Adults: ¥900; concessions: ¥400.
- 3 Sakata City Museum of Art (酒田市美術館), 3-17-95, Iimoriyama. 09:00 - 17:00. Contains a permanent collection which mainly focuses on the work of sculptor, Takahashi Go and painter, Saito Chozo. The museum is located 20 minutes from Sakata Station and has views of nearby Mount Chōkai. Adults: ¥540; concessions: ¥270.
- 4 Dewa Yushinkan (出羽遊心館), 3-17-86, Imoriyama. 09:00-21:30. A Tea House complex located beside Sakata City Museum of Art. It was built in 1994 and has a traditional Japanese design. You can buy green tea here for \300 and enjoy the views of the Mogami river and Mt.Chokai. Free.
- 5 Somaro (相馬樓), 1-2-20, Hiyoshicho. 10:00-17:00. A traditional Japanese restaurant dating back to the Edo period, where guests can enjoy performances from Maiko dancers. The culture of Maiko dancing in Sakata is a result of the city's close trading relationship with Osaka and Kyoto in the past. The building has been carefully renovated and contains many traditional features. Maiko dancing performances take place daily at 14:00. Adult: ¥700; concessions: ¥ 300-500.
- 6 Kaiko-ji Temple (海向寺), 2-7-12 Hiyoshi-cho. Shingon Buddhism temple located in the centre of Sakata near Hioriyama Park. The temple contains the remains of two priests who starved themselves to death through a process of self-mummification called sokushinbutsu.
- 7 Sankyo Storehouse (山居倉庫), 1-1-20, Sankyomachi. This storehouse was built in 1893 to store Shonai rice. On the storehouse's southern side, there is a line of 41 Zelkova trees, which were planted over 150 years ago to help keep the temperature of the storehouses low during the hot summer months. The modern day storehouse contains a small museum with information regarding the history and culture of Sakata, a restaurant and a souvenir shop which sells local food and drinks.
- Tsuruoka - The nearest city, located 24km away and connected by Expressway, Route 7 and Uetsu Main Line.
- Yurihonjo - Explore Yurihonjo, a city in SW Akita Prefecture.
|Routes through Sakata|
|Akita ← Nikaho ←||N S||→ Tsuruoka → Niigata|
|END ←||N S||→ Tsuruoka|
|END ←||W S||→ Shōnai → Shinjo|
|END ←||W E||→ Mamurogawa → Yuzawa|