The “Shonai Plain,” a premium rice producing area is located in Yamagata prefecture, lies at the outlet of Mogami-gawa River, a major shipping route. The outlet forms the vast plain of lower basin wetlands before it meets the Sea of Japan. Symbolic of its regional agrarian history and culture is the “Sankyo soko,” Rice Warehouse Buildings. These buildings were built in 1893 by Sakai Family and could hold up to 10,800 tons (19 million bags) rice. “Sakata” is the name of the town where “Sankyo soko” is located, was a major rice shipping port during the “Edo” period. The buildings are still in use. They now house the ‘Shonai Rice Historical museum,’ ‘Sakata Yume no kura’ and ‘Hana no yakata,’ which introduce the areas’ history and culture for visitors. The area is the focal point for cultural events such as ancient tea ceremonies, games and local festivals.
The “Sankyo soko,” warehouse complex of 11, white walled buildings is adjacent to the “Mogami” river. The double roofed buildings were ingeniously constructed to protect the stored rice from summer time heat and humidity. Zelkova shade trees place on the buildings roofs also aided in eliminating moisture. The Zelkova trees create rich seasonable varietal colors like fresh green in spring and summer and a beautiful yellow in autumn. “Sakata” is also a famous place for the production of a Japanese TV drama known “Oshin.” It is based on the Japanese woman, who is the owner of a Japanese supermarket “Yaoh.” A record 53% of the Japanese population during 1983-84 watched her success story. It can still be seen in many countries across Asia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
To reach “Sankyo soko,” and its unique sights, take the Bullet train from Tokyo to reach “Sandai” or “Yamagata,” and change to a local line. The trip is estimated to take 6 hours.
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