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Founded in 1701, Yorozuya in Sakata city, Yamagata prefecture, Tohoku is famous in surrounding areas for it’s quality teas, gifts and service. Yorozuya means travelling salesman—our ancestors travelled up and down Japan carrying goods, tea and messages secretly for the local feudal lords. The Yorozuya family have been forerunners in introducing domestic tea and ceramics and later international products to this unique area of wealthy merchants, farmers and sake brewers.
Sakata is a port and was once an important stop off on the Kita-Mae shipping route along the Sea of Japan. In the Meiji period (1868-1912) rice grown in this area was sent down by boat to Osaka. On the return journey the boats were weighed down with ceramic items from Kyushu and culture from Kyoto for the Yorozuya family to sell.
Generations of Yorozuya family has survived peaks and troughs, through the 1894 Shonai earthquake when the whole shop and much of the surrounding areas were burned to the ground. During WW2 the shop shut as there was nothing to sell, in the 90s bubble era experienced unprecedented growth and now the economic depression of rural Japan.
Englishwoman joins the family
In 2008, the 17th generation and only son returned to join the family business with a foreign bride from London, England. That’s me. In 2015 I joined the family company and am learning the tea business from the secret counting system to the special local tea blends, getting to know our customers and seeking out new ones. I am so glad you can join me on this fascinating journey.