Location and History


History of Sakai Port

Sakai Port is located in Sakaiminato City, Tottori Prefecture, and shares its border with Shimane Prefecture. It is in the westernmost point of Tottori Prefecture and is surrounded by Yumigahama and Shimane peninsulas which create a waterway, Sakai Channel, setting favorable conditions for a port. This natural port has enjoyed a long history since 1860 when the local feudal domain appointed an administrative office in Sakai Division to carry out trade in Seto Inland Sea, Kyushu, Tajima and Hokuriku regions using wasen (traditional wooden boats). This port was later administered by the prefectural office in 1890 and declared an open port in 1904 to make way for foreign trade. In 1953, it was designated as “Type 3 Fishing Port” and due to the significant increase in purse seine catches, it was labeled “Special Type 3 Fishing Port” in 1973 as it was also well equipped with a wholesale market making it a hub for Sea of Japan’s offshore fishing and the center for seafood production and distribution.

Features of Sakai Port and Market

From 1986 to 1994, Sakai Port’s annual harvest topped 50,000 tons for 9 consecutive years due to increased populations of sardines. From 1992 to 1996, Sakai Port recorded the highest yield in Japan for 5 years. Yields, however, sharply fell the following years due to changes in population numbers and Sakai Port entered a long period of stagnation. As Sakai Port now serves as a base for offshore fishing (such as purse seine fishing, crab pot fishing, bottom trawling and squid fishing), its yearly catch for 2015 was 126,217 tons which amounted to 20.571 billion yen.


Although purse seine vessels’ horse mackerels, chub mackerels, sardines and pot fishing vessels’ crab harvests form a large share of Sakai Port’s landings, various kinds of fish are yielded in various seasons all throughout the year – Japanese halfbeak, Japanese red rockfish, and flounder in spring; Bluefin tuna, swordtip squid, Japanese seabass and iwagaki rock oysters in summer; sandfish, shirasu (whitebait) and Japanese Spanish mackerel in autumn; and the matsuba snow crab (king of winter delicacies), Japanese amberjack and Japanese flying squid in winter. Except for the closed season, the red snow crab is harvested for 10 months, from September to June of the following year, maintaining its long records of yielding the largest numbers in Japan.


The market is managed by the prefectural government and is referred to as Tottori Prefectural Sakaiminato Seafood Wholesale Market. Wholesaling is conducted by 3 organizations: Sakaiminato Uo-Ichiba Co., Ltd, Tottori Prefectural Fisheries Cooperatives and Fisheries Cooperatives JF Shimane. Intermediaries from 70 companies such as distributors, processors and retailers take part in market trading.

Issues and Measures

Japan’s overall conditions of fishery resources are worsening and the prolonged recession is taking its toll on fish prices which remain stagnant. While consumers increasingly expect food safety and seek easy and ready-to-go products, the market facilities are aging. The East Japan Earthquake of March 2011 raised further concerns on whether the fisheries industry is capable of responding to such emergencies. These issues pose a great challenge for the industry.


With these issues in mind, we are now mapping out the details of a development project (until FY 2023) supported by the government’s Development of Designated Ports and Harbors Plan. Not only will this raise the capacity of Sakaiminato’s landings, but will also make way for a new advanced hygiene management system that will help meet export standards. We aim to make Sakai Port Japan’s most alluring port with a fully equipped market filled with energy and facilitates local food productions.


Previously, Sakaiminato exported 10,000 – 30,000 tons of frozen sardines annually mainly to the Philippines and Malaysia. However, due to the declining numbers of sardines, export yields sharply dropped. In recent years, we have been able to export mainly frozen fish to Korea, China, Thailand and Vietnam.


Top of this page