The Honma family was the wealthiest merchant family in Japan between the 17th and mid-20th centuries. Their immense wealth was larger than that of feudal lords and was the envy of people all over Japan. The Honma Residence originally served as regional quarters for visiting shogunate officials. The buildings are a unique fusion of the architectural styles of traditional samurai residences and merchant houses.
The old pine tree covering the roof of the front entrance reflects the spirit of the Honma family: “taking a low profile and being modest”. This spirit based on simplicity and fortitude can be seen through their dedication to the local area where they funded the planting of a barrier of trees to protect the locals’ fields and constructed residences and gardens to give farmers shelter and work even during times of poor harvests.
From late February to early April each year, the Sakata Hinakaido Festival takes place in the area. A collection of “Hina dolls” (dolls for the Girl’s Festival) are displayed at local venues including the Honma Residence and the Honma Museum. Most of the Hina dolls are private personal belongings and the festival offers a rare chance to see these precious traditional dolls. Don’t miss it!