Yamagata, Japan Feb. 28 Wed 11:45AM
Rice is very important to the Japanese. This food staple is often consumed at every meal. Sometimes each grain of rice is even thought of as an individual kami (Japanese god)! The rice trade is so lucrative that families involved in it were often some of the wealthiest throughout Japan. Sankyo Soko is one very well-known Japanese rice store house.
This rice warehouse building has been standing tall for 100 years in Sakata City. The area in which the warehouse is situated – Shonai, Sakata – is known to be one of the most arable lands for growing grain in Japan! The grounds are also very close to the Niida River by Sakata harbor. Since Sakata turned into a major port city during the Edo period because it had such a large export of rice, and its largest rice warehouse was situated so close to the harbor.
The Sakai family of the Shonai clan built and owned the Sankyo Soko. 9 of the 12 Sankyo Soko buildings are still in use as rice storage facilities, but the other 3 are also open to the public as museums!
The official names for the three museum facilities are the Shonai Rice Historical Museum, Sakara Yume-no-kura, and Museum Hana-no-yakata. Each of these exhibits relate to the past culture of Sakata, the Shonai clan, and the Sankyo Soko. The museums also hold tea ceremonies, traditional games, festivals, and a variety of food options with Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo influence. Some of the exhibits teach visitors about rice production and storage, as well as the history of trading rice with other port cities.
Each building looks very old and traditionally Japanese, with wooden exteriors and thick grassy roofs. Thick and very lush green trees protect the exteriors of the buildings as well, preventing too much sun or strong cold winds from getting into the storehouses. These trees were built upon the building’s construction and are still alive and well today!
There is also a small shrine at the back of the buildings that can be visited. The best way to access this site and get around Sakata is by car!