Travel Reports by mfedley view profile of mfedley

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Note: The opinions and views expressed in this user report are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of japan-guide.com.

July 5, 2018 - Hidden Honshu: Sakata

For my sixth day in Japan, I travelled south from Akita to the small town of Sakata in Yamagata Prefecture. Like many country towns, Sakata is is suffering a slow death due to a decreasing population but this does not mean that the town itself does not have some world class attractions. As such - I went to see what Sakata had to offer,

When you first make your way to Sakata Station, I strongly suggest you get the free English Map of the town which will be invaluable. There is extensive signage in the town - but sites use numbers which are found on the map you get from the Tourist Bureau,

Still present advertising from an earlier time...

My first stop for the day was the Homma/Honma Museum which costs 900 yen to enter or 1400 yen with entry to the Honma Former Residence. Note that no photography is allowed in the museum which includes some good quality works - but you come here mainly for the garden which is sublime.

Entry into the garden

If there was one word that could describe this garden - it would be refined. The garden itself is reasonably large for a town of this size and shows the former wealth of the Honma Family who built this garden and villa.

The main villa seems to be a bit over 100 years old and is about as refined as the garden is. It's also fair to say that the view can also be breathtaking at times but someone has to look at it I guess....

Someone actually thought of this when they made it!

For people who like coffee or Macha - it's possible to get a drink and a sweet for around 500 yen. Not a bad option if you want to watch the world go by.

My second stop for the day was Kaian Temple - with the only reason for stopping was the three story pagoda which I saw from the road.

My next stop was Jo-huku Temple which is located a stones throw from Kaian Temple. It's known mainly for it's gate which is 250 years old and is a replica of a gate for a temple in Kyoto.

My next stop was the Somaro which used to be a restaurant which went out of business in 1995. Due to it's local prominence, the local historical society ended up restoring the building to it's former glory and is now home to the local Maiko Performances (local geisha). Note it costs 1000 yen to enter and there is a performance at 2pm most days (apart from Wednesdays).

One of my favorite parts of this building are the small touches which you don't often see. Note that normally you need to be shown these - so I'm sure that I've also missed some of the even more subtle details to be found here. Note that I suggest you get here at 1:30'ish and this will give you 30 minutes to view the first floor and then slowly make your way up to the third floor for the performance at 2pm.

The performance lasts around 15-20 minutes and you'll notice that at first there is no-one here and then blink and thirty people turn up. If you are interested in viewing a geisha performance which is refined, accessible and interesting then I would suggest this one. It's not as long and laborious as the Meiko Odori in Kyoto. You also get up closer to the Geisha and can see their intricate moves and eye movements. It's even possible to get a photo after the performance. Note that no photography is allowed during the performance.

My next stop which is around 5-6 minute walk from the Somaro is Kaiko Temple which is home to two mummified priests. The general grounds are free but it costs 400 yen to view the mummies (no photography inside). Note that even though it is small - there is a good Japanese (in person) explanation and also an english explanation which takes around 10 minutes to listen in full. English information here is quite strong compared to other temples in Japan.

Located close to the Honma Residence, the Abumiya used to be a rice shipper and merchant which allowed them to build quite an impressive residence. Note that it costs 320 yen to enter and it's quite good value for it's size compared to other locations in Sakata.

My second last stop for the day is the large Honma Residence which costs 630 yen to enter or is included in the 1400 yen combo ticket mentioned for the first location. This building is quite impressive but no photography is allowed inside which I did not fully understand. As such, there is a dearth of photos for this location and I would visit the Abumiya instead if you are penny pinching.

My last stop for the day was the Sankyo Rice Store which is basically 12 large warehouses right next to each other. The first two storehouses have been transformed into a store/museum where lots of local products can be purchased and consumed. The last two warehouses seem to be another museum about rice which costs 300 yen to enter. As I'm getting sick of paying for museums and such, I gave this location a rest.

So to put it simply, I really enjoyed today and the quality of some of the attractions are some of the better locations in Japan. The garden at the Homma Museum is probably in my top 5 gardens in the whole of Japan and that's saying something. My biggest gripe for Sakata is that all of the site very quickly add up which can make it an expensive day compared to other locations (such as Akita). For tomorrow, I'll be making my way to Sado Island for a couple of days.

Further Information:

Somaro Performance: https://www.somaro.net/englishhome
Abumiya (Japanese only): http://abumiya.matizukuri.info
Sakata Tourist Office: https://sakatacity.com

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List of Posts:
2018/07/18 - Hidden Honshu: Fukuyama
2018/07/17 - Hidden Honshu: Tomonoura
2018/07/17 - Hidden Honshu: Iwakuni
2018/07/16 - Hidden Honshu: Tsuwano
2018/07/15 - Hidden Honshu: Hagi's Residences
2018/07/15 - Hidden Honshu: Hagi's Shrine District & Temples
2018/07/15 - Hidden Honshu: Hagi's Castle Town
2018/07/14 - Hidden Honshu: Iwami Ginzan
2018/07/14 - Hidden Honshu: Izumo
2018/07/13 - Hidden Honshu: Yonago
2018/07/13 - Hidden Honshu: Matsue's Gardens
2018/07/12 - Hidden Honshu: Mikuni
2018/07/11 - Hidden Honshu: Awara Onsen
2018/07/10 - Hidden Honshu: Kanazawa's Museums
2018/07/09 - Hidden Honshu: Kanazawa's Samurai District
2018/07/09 - Hidden Honshu: Kanazawa's Castle District
2018/07/08 - Hidden Honshu: Sado's Shukunegi
2018/07/08 - Hidden Honshu: Southern Sado
2018/07/07 - Hidden Honshu: Northern Sado
2018/07/06 - Hidden Honshu: Getting to Sado
2018/07/05 - Hidden Honshu: Sakata
2018/07/04 - Hidden Honshu: Akita
2018/07/03 - Hidden Honshu: Kakunodate
2018/07/02 - Hidden Honshu: Nyuto to Tamagawa Onsen
2018/07/01 - Hidden Honshu: Morioka to Nyuto Onsen
2018/06/30 - Hidden Honshu: Matsumae
2018/02/23 - Southern Odyssey - Taketomi
2018/02/23 - Southern Odyssey - Ishigaki City
2018/02/22 - Southern Odyssey - Ishigaki Island
2018/02/21 - Southern Odyssey - Iriomote
2018/02/20 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa to Iriomote
2018/02/19 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa WW2 Sites
2018/02/19 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Day 5 Southern Attractions
2018/02/18 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Day 4 Naha
2018/02/17 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Day 3
2018/02/16 - Southern Odyssey - Ocean Expo Park
2018/02/16 - Southern Odyssey - Ie Island
2018/02/15 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Hanami Report
2018/02/15 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Day 1
2018/02/14 - Southern Odyssey - Amami to Okinawa
2018/02/13 - Southern Odyssey - Amami Day 3
2018/02/12 - Southern Odyssey - Amami Day 2
2018/02/11 - Southern Odyssey - Amami Day 1
2017/07/04 - Shikotsu Lake to Noboribetsu - Hokkaido
2017/07/03 - Otaru to Shikotsu - Hokkaido
2017/07/02 - Otaru - Hokkaido
2017/07/02 - Yoichi - Hokkaido
2017/07/01 - Biei to Sapporo - Hokkaido
2017/06/30 - Sounkyo Onsen to Biei - Hokkaido
2017/06/29 - Shibetsu to Sounkyu Onsen - Hokkaido
2017/06/28 - Hokkaido: Wakkanai to Shibetsu
2017/06/27 - Rebun Island - Lake Kushu & Kafuka
2017/06/26 - Rebun Island - Momoiwa Course
2017/06/25 - Rishiri Island - Hokkaido
2017/06/23 - Imaicho - Nara Prefecture
2017/06/22 - Asuka & Sakurai - Nara Prefecture
2017/06/22 - Nara Yamoto 4 Temple Pilgrimage
2017/06/21 - Yoshino - Nara Prefecture
2017/06/20 - Sakai - Osaka Prefecture
2017/06/19 - Osaka - Namba Area
2017/06/19 - Western Osaka
2017/06/18 - Kansai & Hokkaido Trip Intro & Central Osaka
2017/02/06 - Closed Kurume - Fukuoka
2017/02/05 - Miyazaki to Kobayashi
2017/02/04 - Obi Castle Town - Miyazaki
2017/02/04 - Nichinan Coast - Miyazaki
2017/02/03 - Gardens & Museums of Miyazaki City
2017/02/02 - Shrines of Takachiko - Miyazaki
2017/02/01 - Usuki City - Oita
2017/01/31 - Hita & Surrounds - Oita
2017/01/31 - Yufuin Onsen - Oita
2017/01/30 - Hells of Beppu
2017/01/30 - Oita City - Oita
2017/01/29 - Kitsuki Castle Town - Oita
2017/01/28 - Hiji Castle Town - Oita
2017/01/28 - Templing in Kunisaki Hanto
2017/01/27 - Nakatsu to Yamaga Onsen
2017/01/27 - Eastern Kyushu Trip Info & Nakatsu
2016/08/02 - Ohori Park - Fukuoka
2016/08/01 - Fukuoka's Gion Temple Cluster
2016/07/31 - Unzen Onsen - Nagasaki Prefecture
2016/07/31 - Shimabara - Nagasaki Prefecture
2016/07/30 - Nagasaki City - Northern City Attractions
2016/07/29 - Nagasaki City - Southern Attractions
2016/07/29 - Hashima - Nagasaki Prefecture
2016/07/28 - Huis Ten Bosch Day 2 (Day)
2016/07/27 - Huis Ten Bosch Day 1 (Night)
2016/07/26 - Hirado Part 2 - Nagasaki
2016/07/26 - Hirado Part 1 - Nagasaki
2016/07/25 - Gardens of Takeo - Saga Prefecture
2016/07/24 - Yutoku Inari Shrine
2016/07/24 - Ureshino - Saga
2016/07/23 - Yoshinogari Park - Saga
2016/07/23 - Saga City - Saga Prefecture
2016/07/22 - Yobuko - Saga Prefecture
2016/07/21 - Karatsu City - Saga
2016/07/20 - Mojiko - Fukuoka
2016/07/20 - Kokura - Fukuoka
2016/07/19 - Dazaifu - Fukuoka
2016/07/18 - Nokonoshima Island - Fukuoka
2016/07/17 - NW Kyushu Trip Info & Yanagawa
2016/03/02 - Shikoku Highlights
2016/02/21 - Hadaka Matsuri: Saidaji Temple Okayama
2016/02/20 - Okayama Museum Cluster - Okayama Prefecture
2016/02/19 - Marugame & Kotohira - Kagawa Prefecture
2016/02/18 - Matsuyama - Ehime Prefecture
2016/02/17 - Uchihiko - Ehime
2016/02/17 - Ozu - Ehime Prefecture
2016/02/16 - Seiyo
2016/02/16 - Uwajima - Ehime Prefecture
2016/02/15 - Kochi to Otsuki
2016/02/14 - Kochi - Kochi - Kochi
2016/02/13 - Toyo to Yasu via Aki
2016/02/12 - Naruto to Toya
2016/02/11 - Takamatsu to Naruto
2016/02/11 - Artsy Naoshima: Honmura Art Project
2016/02/11 - Artsy Naoshima: Tsutsuji-so to Miyanoura Port
2016/02/10 - Takamatsu - Kagawa Prefecture
2016/02/10 - Shikoku Trip Info & Artsy Teshima
2015/07/19 - Accommodation in Japan - Last Post
2015/07/19 - Food in Japan
2015/07/15 - Hongu Taisha - Wakayama
2015/07/14 - Shingu & Ogi Matsuri - Wakayama
2015/07/13 - Nachi Taisha & Kii-Katsuura - Wakayama
2015/07/12 - Kii-Tanabe & Kumano Kodo - Wakayama
2015/07/10 - Wacky Wakayama City - Wakayama
2015/07/08 - Tottori City - Tottori Prefecture
2015/07/06 - Izushi - Hyogo
2015/07/05 - Kinosaki Onsen - Hyogo
2015/07/04 - Yamanaka Onsen - Ishikawa
2015/07/03 - Wajima to Wakura - Ishikawa
2015/07/02 - Eastern Noto Peninsula Drive - Ishikawa
2015/07/01 - Kanazawa to Wajima - Ishikawa
2015/06/30 - Itoigawa Salt Road - Niigata
2015/06/29 - Coastal Itoigawa - Niigata
2015/06/28 - Kurobe Dam Railway - Toyama
2015/06/27 - Iiyama City & Madarao Kogen - Nagano
2015/06/26 - Rural Iiyama & Nozawa Onsen - Nagano
2015/06/24 - Manza Onsen - Gunma Prefecture
2015/06/23 - Kusatsu Onsen - Gunma
2015/06/21 - Dewa Sanzan - Yamagata
2015/06/20 - Tsuruoka to Dewa Sanzan - Yamagata
2015/06/19 - Tsuruoka Town - Yamagata
2015/06/18 - Haruna Jinja - Gunma
2015/06/17 - Japan Trip Intro, JR Pass & Yokohama
2014/10/25 - Koyo In Japan - A Collection of Photos
2014/06/22 - Narita & Sawara - My Last Post!
2014/06/14 - Yahiko - Niigata
2014/06/07 - Ajiro Onsen
2014/05/17 - Gifu City
2014/05/17 - Cormorant Fishing - Gifu City
2014/05/11 - Shorin-zan Daruma-ji Temple
2014/05/10 - Gunma Flower Park
2014/04/27 - Obuse - Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/26 - Togakushi & Nagano
2014/04/13 - Toyokawa & Toyohashi
2014/04/12 - Futagawa - Cherry Blossom Report
2014/02/09 - Ono - Fukui Prefecture
2014/02/08 - Eiheiji & Fukui City
2014/01/19 - Nokogiri-Yama - Chiba
2014/01/03 - Izumo Taisha & Adachi Museum of Art
2014/01/02 - Matsue - Shimane Prefecture
2014/01/01 - Hagi - Yamaguchi Prefecture
2013/12/31 - Yamaguchi
2013/12/30 - Akiyoshido Cave - Yamaguchi Prefecture
2013/12/29 - Miyajima - Hiroshima Prefecture
2013/12/28 - Hiroshima
2013/12/27 - Onomichi - Hiroshima Prefecture
2013/12/26 - Kurashiki
2013/12/25 - Bitsu-Takahashi: Okayama Prefecture
2013/12/24 - Kibi Plain - Okayama Prefecture
2013/12/23 - Inujima Art Park - Okayama Prefecture
2013/12/22 - Okayama
2013/12/22 - Himeji Castle & Kokoen Gardens
2013/12/21 - Shoshazan Engyogi Temple Walk - Himeji
2013/12/16 - Tsumago to Magome - Spring & Winter
2013/12/08 - Ito - Through The Seasons
2013/11/26 - Kyoto Autumn Report - Central Kyoto to Higashiyama
2013/11/26 - Kyoto Autumn Report - Arashiyama Part 2
2013/11/25 - Kyoto Autumn Report - Arashiyama Part 1
2013/11/24 - Kyoto Autumn Report - Tofukuji & Night Illuminations
2013/11/17 - Showa Kinen Koen
2013/11/10 - Kofu City - Autumn Report
2013/11/09 - Shosenkyo Gorge - Autumn Report
2013/10/26 - Hirosaki - Apples & Temples
2013/10/25 - Hirosaki Castle Park & Surrounds - Autumn
2013/10/24 - Oirase Stream - Autumn Report
2013/10/23 - Lake Towada & Yasumiya - Autumn Report
2013/10/22 - Rural Tono - Autumn Report
2013/10/21 - Tono - Shrine Cluster
2013/10/20 - Central Tono - Iwate
2013/10/19 - Urabandai - Autumn Report
2013/10/02 - Kamikochi - Autumn Report
2013/09/29 - Mito - Ibaraki Prefecture
2013/09/28 - Rural Fukuroda & Ibaraki Flower Park
2013/09/14 - Atami - Shizuoka Prefecture
2013/08/16 - Noboribetsu - Summer & Autumn
2013/08/12 - Mt Asahidake - Daisetsuzan National Park
2013/08/11 - Asahiyama Zoo - Asahikawa
2013/08/10 - Sapporo - Summer & Autumn
2013/08/08 - Lake Toya - Hokkaido
2013/08/07 - Aomori Nebuta Matsuri
2013/08/06 - Osorezan - Shimokita Peninsula
2013/08/04 - Akita Kanto Matsuri
2013/08/03 - Yumoto Onsen to Chuzenji Lake Walk
2013/07/11 - Kyoto - Daigo-ji Temple
2013/07/10 - Kyoto - Mt Hieizan
2013/07/09 - Kyoto - Ohara
2013/07/07 - Kyoto - Koryuji Area
2013/07/06 - Uji - Summer
2013/07/05 - Hikone
2013/07/04 - Kyoto Station & Surroundings Attractions
2013/06/01 - Tokyo Parks & Gardens - Part 2
2013/05/26 - Tokyo Parks & Gardens - Part 1
2013/05/19 - Ouchijuku (Fukushima)
2013/05/18 - Aizu Wakamatsu (Fukushima Prefecture)
2013/05/13 - Geibi-kei Gorge & Ichinoseki
2013/05/11 - A Rainy Hiraizumi
2013/05/07 - Matsusaka Walk
2013/05/06 - Nara - Horyuji Temple & Koriyama Area
2013/05/05 - South West Nara Temple Trail (Golden Week)
2013/05/04 - Ise Naiku & Geku Shrines (Golden Week)
2013/04/29 - Western & South Eastern Kamakura Bike Ride
2013/04/28 - Yamadera Mountain Temple - Spring
2013/04/27 - Yamagata Cherry Blossom Report
2013/04/27 - Yonezawa Cherry Blossom Report
2013/04/20 - Nikko's Main Temples & Shrines
2013/04/20 - Nikko - Gardens & History Walk
2013/04/14 - Meiji Mura Park - Inuyama
2013/04/13 - Inuyama Town & Castle
2013/04/05 - Koyasan - Okunoin Temple & Temple Stay
2013/04/04 - Koyasan Bike Ride: From Daimon to Karukayado
2013/04/03 - Nara Park Cherry Blossom Report
2013/04/02 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report - Kiyomuzi & Nanzen-ji
2013/04/02 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report - Philosophers Trail
2013/04/01 - Kyoto Report - Temples, Shrines & Geisha
2013/03/30 - Furukawa - Takayama's Impressive Little Brother
2013/03/27 - Hakone Day Tour Loop
2013/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report - Odawara Castle
2013/03/23 - Cherry Blossom Report - Yokohama @ Honmoku
2013/03/16 - Kamakura - North Western Bike Ride
2013/03/11 - Shimoda & Irozaki Coast
2013/03/09 - Minami-Izu Cherry Blossom Festival
2013/03/09 - Kawazu Cherry Blossom Matsuri & Kawazu Falls
2013/03/08 - Kamakura - Hase Area Walk
2013/03/03 - Kawaguchiko - Fuji Five Lakes
2013/02/24 - Kawasaki - On & Off The Beaten Track
2013/02/17 - Yamagata - An Unexpected Day Trip
2013/02/16 - Half of Yamadera & Zao Snow Monsters
2013/02/15 - Sendai - Winter
2013/02/14 - Matsushima - Winter
2013/02/09 - Yamanouchi Snow Monkeys & Nagano Zenkoji Temple
2013/02/06 - Shizuoka - Temples & Plum Blossoms