"Sakai (Osaka) in the west and Sakata in the east"
is the phrase to show how much a port town Sakata
flourished in the Edo Period (1603-1867) through
the trade of safflower (sometimes referred to as
"bastard saffron"), and other commodities. The
port's history and culture, cultivated by nobles
and wealthy merchants, are still found everywhere
in the city.
Sankyo Soko was built in 1893 as a storehouse for rice, and has been used to preserve agricultural products ever since. The view of these12 traditional storehouses together with the Japanese zelkova trees that line the river is now a symbol of Sakata, a "city of rice." One of the storehouses is now used as a museum to exhibit documents related to Shonai rice, while another has opened as Sakata Yume-no-kura, a hall where you can buy souvenirs and enjoy dishes made with seasonal ingredients.
A villa of the Honma family, known as a family even wealthier than the feudal lords, is open to the public as a museum. Its garden surrounding the pond is a must-see.
Souma-ya, one of the most prominent Japanese restaurants in Sakata during the Edo Period, has been renovated and renamed the Souma-ro. At Souma- ro guests can enjoy traditional performances by young women known as "Sakata Maiko" (dancing girls) while they dine. This is a part of the culture found at some Japanese restaurants which was brought from Kyoto and Osaka to Sakata as a byproduct of their trading business.