[Feature] Sakata Port! Seafood and local goods markets
Sakata Port is the only port in Yamagata Prefecture.
Located at the mouth of the Mogami River, it has long developed as an important base for traffic, military and trade along the coast of the Sea of Japan and inland rivers.
In 2016, it won the “*Port of the Year* 2016” award, and the following year it grew as a tourist destination, with foreign cruise ships calling at the port. It plays a big role in supporting locals.
*Awarded to the port that raised the “vigor of the port” by being the best in terms of port activities such as port logistics, flow of people, industry, tourism, port town development, and creating topics related to the port of the year.
There is also a market nearby where you can enjoy fresh seafood caught in the sea of Shonai, which is also a popular sightseeing spot.
Therefore, this time, we will fully tell you the charm of Yamagata Prefecture’s open Sakata Port.
Please take a look to the end!
1. Sakata Port
Sakata is a city that developed at the mouth of the Mogami River where it empties into the Sea of Japan.
It has long prospered as a transportation hub connecting the coast of the Sea of Japan and the inland, and further prospered during the Edo period when Zuiken Kawamura pioneered a westward route.
In the middle of the Edo period, there were 97 shipping wholesalers, which tells how Sakata Port prospered.
Today, it has become a lively port where people come and go from inside and outside the prefecture, and it also serves as a hub for local exchanges and tourism.
Around Sakata Port, there is a Sakata Maritime Center which introduces the history of Sakata Port, shipping and trade, etc., the Funabacho Ryokuchi where events are held, and the Tobishima Ferry terminal.
In addition, there is the Sakata Seafood Market where you can enjoy seafood, the Minato Market where you can find souvenirs and delicious things from Sakata and the rest of Yamagata, and SAKATANTO, a new market facility that opened in 2022. It is an irresistible area.
Now, let’s introduce them in the following order!
1. Sakata Seafood Market
2. Minato Market
4. Sakata Marine Center
5. Funabacho Green Space
6. Liner Tobishima Ferry Terminal
2. Sakata Seafood Market
・Sugahara fresh fish Sakata Seafood Market main office
On the first floor of Sakata Seafood Market, there is the Sugawara Sengyo Sakata Seafood Market main shop, where you can purchase fresh fish and seafood.
As soon as you enter the shop, the scent of the sea spreads softly.
At the time of our visit, there were rows and rows of red sea bream, bluefin tuna, salmon, and more!
The shop sells sashimi and nigiri sushi in easy-to-eat portions, and is recommended for those who want to eat a variety of fish little by little.
Another nice point is that they can handle preparation, filleting, and processing freshly caught fish and seafood into sashimi.
One of the charms of the seafood market is that you can enjoy seasonal fish as soon as possible!
You can find fresh seafood no matter what time of year you visit the seafood market, but I would especially recommend June to August.
At Shonai Beach, natural rock oysters are caught from June to mid-August, and they have a texture that melts in your mouth!
Iwagaki, or rock oysters, are plump and have a rich flavor, and are excellent when served with lemon or vinegar soy sauce!
Please enjoy the blessings of the Sea of Japan, which has grown plump and large due to the underground water of Mt. Chokai and abundant plankton.
・Kaisen Donya Tobishima
If you go up the stairs from the fresh fish shop on the 1st floor, you will find the Kaisen Donya Tobishima shop on the 2nd floor.
Open from 7:00 in the morning, you can eat fresh rice bowls and set meals that are particular about fish and seafood from Shonai Beach.
The eating area is spacious with tables, counters and a tatami mat section.
Enjoying a seafood bowl while gazing at the scenery of Sakata Port and the Sea of Japan is sure to make you feel happy!
Limited-time seasonal dishes using seasonal fish are popular items that often sell out, so we recommend visiting early in the morning or around noon.
If the fish or seafood bowl you wanted to eat was sold out, you still have a chance!
Go down the stairs and you will find Kuikoiya Wan on your left.
It has a calm atmosphere like a set-up restaurant, and is attractive for its freshness and good value for money that can only be found at a shop so close to the sea.
In addition to nigiri sushi and rice bowls, you can enjoy seafood pasta made with seasonal ingredients for about 500 yen.
You can also order takeout, so you can enjoy sharing with everyone.
It’s usually only open for lunch, but if you make a reservation by the day before, you can also enjoy dinner, so please try it for various occasions.
At the back of the seafood market, there is a warm wooden observation deck.
You can overlook Sakata Port, and the wind feels very good on sunny days.
After enjoying your meal, it is also recommended to take a break while listening to the gentle sound of the waves.
It has become a hidden healing spot for me!
3. Minato Market
If you want to buy souvenirs from Sakata other than seafood, please visit the Minato Market.
Minato Market was built as a place to provide Sakata City’s bounty to locals and tourists.
The product lineup is not limited to seafood, but also has a wide variety of Yamagata local sake, vegetables, and fruits.
Each shop sells different types of products, so you can enjoy just walking around.
This time, I was personally interested in visiting the Komatsu Tuna Specialty Shop.
The kaisen-don (rice bowl topped with sashimi or seafood) that uses tuna in abundance and the limited-edition dishes are all sprinkled with delicious tuna that is irresistible!
We had three types of red meat bowls, but all of them were exquisite, such as sweet shrimp that melted on the tongue and greasy red meat with a crunchy texture.
There are many kinds of dishes, so I would like to go again!
Another must-see spot in Sakata Port is SAKATANTO, which opened on September 2, 2022.
It is an exchange base with the theme of local food and tourism, such as restaurants and shops, event spaces, sightseeing and fishing information desks.
The interior of the facility, which was created by renovating the east wharf shed that was used as a warehouse, has a clean and stylish impression.
It is one of the hottest food spots in Sakata Port and is used as a delivery point of the region.
At the time of the interview, there were five shops inside, Yonekko Mogami, Senkatsu Kuide, Ramen Wadashi, Ika Koi Shokudo, and FRIED LAND, but Good Fishing Yamagata since opened in November.
*Nahana EXPRESS is scheduled to open in December 2022
I ordered the fish and chips takeout at FRIED LAND.
Here you can choose one of three types of seasonal fish and seasonal vegetables.
This time it was cherry salmon, warasa (juvenile yellowtail), and shark!
You can choose from 5 types of sauces, so you can enjoy it in a way that you will never get tired of depending on the combination.
I chose the warasa and perilla genovese sauce that I had for the first time.
Made with 100% Okinawan rice flour and rice oil, the batter is crispy and fragrant, and the inside is fluffy and soft, making it a perfect match with the sauce.
The shiso leaf Genovese sauce has a strong garlic flavor, and the scent of the shiso leaf spreads throughout your mouth!
SAKATANTO has eating and drinking spaces indoors and outdoors.
If you go to the back, you can enjoy your meal while looking at the sea.
When we talked to several people who have dined at SAKATANTO, we heard many happy voices, such as “It’s the second visit, but it’s definitely delicious!”
There are many items that can be taken out, so it’s nice to be able to eat delicious food wherever you like.
It seems that they will be open at night from October, so if you find it difficult to have lunch, please come and visit at that time.
*Only 3 shops are open on Fridays, Saturdays, and the night before holidays: Senkatsukuide!!, Ramen Wadashi, and FRIED LAND (until 21:00)
5. Sakata Marine Center
After enjoying the seafood, let’s learn about Sakata Port.
If you cross the road of the seafood market and go up the pedestrian bridge, you will find the Sakata Marine Center.
Admission is free at this museum of the sea where you can learn about the history of Sakata Port, shipping and trade, and the role of the port.
When you go inside, there are lots of panel displays and materials related to ship models and customs!
We were able to see the wheelhouse of the ship, and it was a series of new discoveries, such as, “I wonder what the inside looks like…!”
In addition, Sakata Port handles container cargo, exports daily necessities such as paper diapers to China and Russia, and imports many housing materials, canned goods, and raw materials for daily necessities.
It was a very interesting time because I was able to learn about trade at Sakata Port, which I don’t have many opportunities to know, and import and export cargo that is closely related to daily life!
How about visiting once to commemorate your visit to Sakata Port?
6. Funabacho Green Space
After learning about Sakata Port, we recommend taking a leisurely stroll.
At Sakata Port, there is a lawn open space called the Funabacho Green Space.
Many events are held here, and the valuable experiences and fresh seafood that can only be experienced at the port are quite popular!
The sunrise and sunset here are also beautiful, so it is also recommended for photos.
If you walk all the way while looking at the sea on your left, you will find playground equipment, a rest area with a roof, and a skateboard plaza.
It’s a little-known spot that’s perfect for a light walk, so please stop by.
7. Liner Tobishima Ferry Terminal
Yamagata Prefecture’s only remote island is Tobishima island.
At Sakata Port, there is a liner Tobishima departure point that takes you to Tobishima island in 75 minutes one way.
During Golden Week and around July and August, there is a children’s free campaign, where you can take a mini Tobishima island lecture by a certified guide and a wild bird watching tour, which will be a great way to make memories during long vacations and summer.
If you plan to leave the port in the morning, we recommend eating a breakfast set at the neighboring Sakata Seafood Market before departing!
In addition to the ones introduced this time, there are many other sightseeing spots around Sakata Port, such as Hiyoriyama Park and the Sankyo Warehouses, where you can stroll around.
Bicycles for sightseeing can be rented for free, so please enjoy the rich nature and food of Sakata!
8. Parking Lot & Access
About 300 cars can be parked free of charge at Sakata Port. Large sightseeing buses can also be parked.
About 10 minutes by car from JR Sakata Station
About 17 minutes by car from Sakata IC on the Sea of Japan Tohoku Expressway
Sakata City Ferry Terminal Parking Lot