While not a major tourist destination, Yanai offers a variety of sites and activities that make this a good day trip from Miyajima or Hiroshima.
Yanai can be reached by exiting the Sanyo Expressway at Kuga and proceeding Southbound on Prefectural Road 70.
Yanai's most famous attribute is the charming and picturesque Shirakabe No Machi located approximately 1km north of the Yanai JR station. Most of the homes and buildings in the district date back to the Edo Period (1600-1867). There are many shops specializing in local handicrafts as well as a locally famous Soy Sauce factory.
Located in Shirakabe no Machi is the large and culturally important House of Kunimori Family. the house, built in the late 18th Century is a good example of a typical merchant class residence from the mid-Edo period. Admission is 200 yen for adults and 100 yen for children.
A much larger museum and old merchant residence is Muroyama no Sono. The residence was constructed by the Oda family around 1702 from revenues generated from the family's control of the lucrative rapeseed oil trade in Western Japan. The complex, which has been faithfully preserved, includes several warehouses and ancestral home that showcase various antiques from the Edo period as well as items from the Meiji and Showa eras. An elderly man, who is a descendant of the Oda family, is the curator and can provide a wonderful insight into the building and many of its contents. Admission fee is 350 yen for adults and 200 yen for children. The museum is open from 900-1700 every day except Wednesdays.
The Shoko-an Temple grounds hosts a small well with nearby willow tree that is reputed to be the origin of name of Yanai (Well of the Willow Tree in Japanese). According to legend, a princess traveling through the region 1400 years ago is said to have briefly stopped at the well to quench her thirst. A tooth pick discarded near the well during this brief stop is said to have grown into the large willow tree occupying the loaction currently. Admission is free.
Yanai has several unique local festivals each year.
- Paper Goldfish Festival (金魚提灯祭り Kingyo Chōchin Matsuri). Aug 13. The festival is in honor of Yanai's most famous and noteworthy product: the goldfish lantern. Various teams compete to parade and spin large versions of the lanterns to the beat of a Taiko (Japanese Drum) and chorus. A large firework display concludes the festival.
- Yanai Daishi Ennichi (柳井大師縁日) (At the Kongou Temple. 20 minutes' walk from JR Yanai Station.). Mar 21. This event is a day when memorial services are held for Kouboudaishi. On festival day, about 20 markets are held.
There are several golf courses surrounding Yanai:
- 2 Iwakuni Country Club (岩国カントリー倶楽部), 1000 Yuumachi (Route 149 near Highway 437.), ☎ . 18 holes.
- 3 Heizei Seaside Golf Club (平生シーサイドゴルフクラブ), 452-3 Sone, Hirao-chō (In neighboring Hirao, on Route 23.), ☎ . 9 holes.
Yanai's most famous souvenir is a paper goldfish lantern (kingyo chouchin). It can be found at various shops in and around Yanai. Yanaijima fabric goods are notable for the vivid colored striped pattern and smooth texture. Kanro soy sauce is a high quality soy sauce brewed at the locally famous Sagawa Soy Sauce Brewery. Its method of brewing adds a sweet flavor that makes it prized for use with sushi and sashimi throughout the Chugoku and Kansai region.
- 1 MadDope (マッドドープ), Minamimachi 1-3-3 (Across the street from the HyperMerx Mall and a 3 minute walk from the Yanai JR station via the pedestrian underpass.), ☎ . An eclectic shop featuring locally produced Japanese hip-hop CDs and Japanese fashion.
There are many reasonably priced and delicious dining options in Yanai.
- 1 Kamaya (釜屋), Minamimachi 7-2-5 (Across the street from Yanai City Hall and a 4 minute walk from the Yanai JR rail station.), ☎ . A local family run udon establishent featuring freshly made udon. Entrees ¥300-700.
- 2 Shinatora (しなとら), Minamimachi 3-4-6 (3 minutes south of JR Yanai Station.). An excellent ramen noodle restaurant. What sets the restaurant apart from others is the is insistance on using only homemade stock in all bowls. Around ¥800.
- Murasaki (村さ来) (4 minutes east on foot from Shirakabe no Machi.). A quant and intimate izakaya. For those not familiar with the concept of an izakaya, this establishment serves as an excellent and Western-friendly point of introduction.
- 3 Sanzoku (山賊, The Chicken Shack), Kugamachi 1380-1, Iwakuni (From Yanai by car, proceed North on Prefectural Route 70 to National Highway 2. Located on the left.), ☎ . Literally translating as "Mountain Family", this establishment features coal roasted chicken and meat dishes with gift shop and koi pond located on a sprawling outdoor arboreal setting.
- 4 Taiwanya (台湾), Nakano 447-1 (Near Shirakabe no Machi.), ☎ . There is a long menu, but most regulars eat 'shiru-soba','shiru-bihun','yaki-soba'and 'yaki-bihun.' The restaurant is run by a man and his wife. Take-out available on request.
- 1 Yanai Station Hotel (柳井ステーションホテル), Minamimachi 1-5-1 (Across the tracks, SW of Yanai Station.), ☎ .
- 2 Yanai City Hotel (柳井シティホテル), Minamimachi 3-2-8 (Across the tracks, SW of Yanai Station.), ☎ .
- 5 Yanai Cruise Hotel (柳井クルーズホテル), Minamimachi 4-1-1, ☎ . The largest hotel in town, with large "Western"-size rooms. It has a café that serves a standard breakfast set for an additional fee.
- Iwakuni - Famous for Kintaikyo (the Brocade Sash Bridge)
- Hirao - The Kaiten (kamikaze submarine) museum at the entrance of Hirao Bay
|Routes through Yanai|
|Yamaguchi ← Hofu ←||W E||→ Iwakuni → Hiroshima|