The Port of Sakata lies on the north central coast of Yamagata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan at the mouth of the Mogami River. The Mogami River is home to the Mogami-gawa Swan Park where wild ducks and swans come in October as they migrate to warmer areas.
The Port of Sakata is the busiest port in Yamagata Prefecture, and the government’s national storehouses for rice were established there in 1926.
The City of Sakata was founded in 1933. In 2005, the nearby towns of Matsuyama, Yawata, and Hirata were merged into the Port of Sakata, bringing its population to over 117 thousand.
The Port of Sakata was a thriving fishing and commercial port from the 14th to 16th Centuries under the Ashikaga Shogunate. Later, it grew as a port for the shipment of rice along the coast of the Sea of Japan.
From the 17th to 19th Centuries during the Edo Period, the Port of Sakata exported local rice and safflower to Osaka and Tokyo. The town grew rich from its busy port. Today, Hiyoriyama Park holds a miniature replica of an 18th Century Sengokubune (a large Japanese ship used to carry rice). Hiyoriyama Park is the place to be in the Port of Sakata during cherry blossom season, and it grants wonderful views of the Sea of Japan. It also contains Japan’s oldest lighthouse.
In 1893, the Sankyo Warehouse was built to support the Port of Sakata rice-trading market. The complex includes 12 warehouses that are all connected. These whitewashed clay buildings line the banks of the Niida River under old zelkova trees that keep the inside temperature proper for storing rice. Tours are available where visitors learn about the history of rice agriculture.
Industry came to the Port of Sakata in 1940 when the chemical industry moved to town. Today, the region produces manganese ore, ferroalloys, and phosphate fertilizer. In the 1970s, an industrial complex surrounding a new port were built north of the Port of Sakata.
The region surrounding the Port of Sakata produces agricultural products that include rice, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and fruit.
The Port of Sakata is the major port for Yamagata Prefecture and its only international port. It supports regular container traffic to Busan, South Korea, and other ports in the Sea of Japan region. Thus, it is a gateway to Russia and East Asia with prospects for continued growth. The Port of Sakata is a designated “Recycle Port,” and it is fast becoming a center for recycling-related industry.