Sakata (Äôc) is a medium-sized city in Yamagata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast, around an hour north of the Dewa Sanzan region. Sakata is located in the fertile Shonai Plain that is known for its high-quality rice. The city grew as an important stop along the coastal shipping route that connected Hokkaido with Osaka via ports along the Sea of Japan and Seto Inland Sea during the Edo Period.
A local merchant family, the Honma clan, came to dominate trade in the city and accrued a vast fortune that made them wealthier than some of the country's feudal lords. Due to their power and influence, the clan developed close ties with the local lords and had a number of lavish buildings built. Some of these buildings still stand today along with museums and other attractions.