Sakamotoya’s roots extend back to Meiji year 27 (1894) when Sakamoto Toraichi, a merchant of kimono, currency exchange and hotels in Yagami district and the current location of Manzai-machi, Nagasaki city in the early Meiji era, moved to the current location of Kanaya-machi and built a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan). In following years throughout the Meiji, Taisho, Showa and Heisei periods, the location became an important repository for traditional Japanese architecture and Nagasaki historical relics.
Over the years, the building has been frequented by many famous cultural icons including renowned artists Seiji Togo and Kiyoshi Yamashita. The site is also a popular gathering point for local government and city administrators due to its proximity to local government offices.
Despite declining numbers of traditional Japanese-style Ryokans as trends in tourism change with the times, the fourth generation Sakamoto Takuya and his wife Etsuko keep Sakamotoya Ryokan alive as the only authentic high-class traditional Japanese style restaurant and inn (ryotei-ryokan) within the city of Nagasaki.
Second generation Sada is focusing on developing the menu, and this is the first inn in Nagasaki offering Shippoku style cuisine, which has proved to be a hit with both inn guests and locals alike. It is said that in the past, locals used to line up with pots to enjoy the main dish in Shippoku-style cooing, simmered pork belly (buta-no-kakuni), which was cooked for the simple purpose of pleasing customers.
In following years, the inn became popular with local customers as a prime gourmet destination, serving seasonal kaiseki-meals, hot pot dishes (nabe-ryori) and of course, Shippoku cuisine.
A mainstay of Nagasaki’s Shippoku style cooking is the simmered pork belly (butano-kakuni) known as Tobani. Tobani is an original Chinese (“tonporo“ in Chinese) dish whose preparation was slowly changed over the years to better suit Japanese preferences.
Sakamotoya uses the traditional cooking method of removing oil by quick boiling premium grade pork, then simmering the meat in a large nabe pot. Our Tobani has a wonderful sweet hot finish, melting texture and goes great with rice or as an accompanying dish with your favorite alcoholic beverage.
While focusing on how to preserve traditional butano-kakuni flavor studiously passed on from the second generation, at the behest of Sakamotoya customers, third generation Hisako looked at ways to further extend the dish to her customers. After three years of effort, in Showa-50 (1975) she succeeded in developing a vacuum packed gift product and trademarked the Tobani brand. In Heisei-9 (1997) she went on to trademark “Kakuni-meshi”, a steamed rice and kakuni dish made with Tobani soup flavoring, Nagasaki rice, glutinous mochi-rice, carrots, burdock (gobo) root and shiitake mushrooms steamed while wrapped in bamboo leaves. As flagship Nagasaki gourmet dishes, Tobani and Kakunimeshi are now sold in gift shops both locally and throughout the rest of Japan.