The town of Sakawa is located on a southern tributary of the Niyodo River and to the east of Kōchi city. This little town has many points of interest, including Kōchi’s oldest brewery, Tsukasabotan, and buildings dating back to the Edo and Meiji periods. There’s a very fine samurai residence with an elegant garden next to the home of a powerful merchant, and a European-style wooden building that served as a police station.
Before touring the town, it’s interesting to visit the Local Industry Centre which serves as a tourist information centre. On the second floor there are wooden models of all the main buildings of Sakawa, meticulously crafted by a retired gentleman of the town. They’re accurate even down to the last tatami mat, and the roofs can be lifted off to see all of the details within. The volunteer guides offer a wealth of information about the town and region.
There used to be several breweries in Sakawa, thanks to the abundant water and rice of the region, but they gradually amalgamated into Tsukasabotan, the only brewery that remains today. Tsukasabotan features a remarkable long storehouse where the sake is kept in tanks. In the old days, the tanks were made of wood, but in 1955 when the brewery decided to use taller metal tanks, the entire storehouse was cranked up so that a new concrete footing could be added underneath the walls. When you see the size of the building, you’ll appreciate what an elaborate task it must have been. The brewery has a very attractive shop where you can try the products and purchase sake and souvenirs.
Up the hill behind the brewery is a beautiful Zen temple, Seigen-ji, with greenery that changes with the seasons. Celebrated botanist, Makino Tomitarō, was born in Sakawa and his birthplace is now a museum. A path leads up from Seigen-ji Temple to Makino Park, which boasts an amazing variety of flowers which bloom sequentially throughout the year.
Name in Japanese: 佐川町
Address: Ko, Sakawa, Takaoka District, Kochi Prefecture 789-1201