While not a major tourist destination, Yanai offers a variety of sites and activities to do that makes this a good daytrip for those visiting Miyajima/Hiroshima.
By Rail: Yanai can be reached via the JR Sanyo Rail from Hiroshima (Westbound) or Tokuyama (Eastbound). Travelers going by way of Shinkansen must disembark at either the JR Tokuyama or Hiroshima Stations.
By Ferry: Regular ferry services connects Yanai by way of Yanai Minato JR Station to Mitsu, a suburb of Matsuyama, in Ehime Prefecture as well as Beppu in Oita Prefecture.
By Car: 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.
There are several festivals worth mentioning that are unique to Yanai:
Kingyo Choochin Matsuri, August 13th annually. The festival is in honor of Yanai's most famous and noteworthy product: the goldfish latern. Various teams compete to parade and spin large versions of the laterns to the beat of a Taiko (Japanese Drum) and chorus. A large firework display concludes the festival.
Yanai Taishi Ennichi This event is a day when memorial services are held for Kouboudaishi. It happens every March 21st at Kongou Temple. On that day, about 20 markets are held. To go there, get off at JR Yanai Station, and walk for 20 minutes.
There are several golf courses surrounding Yanai including:
There are many reasonably priced and delicious dining options in Yanai.
Kamaya: A local family run udon establishent featuring freshly made udon at prices ranging from 300-700 yen per entree. Located across the street from Yanai City Hall and a 4 minute walk from the Yanai JR rail station.
Shinatora: An excellent ramen noodle restaurant located 3 minutes south of the Yanai JR rail station. What sets the restaurant apart from others is the isistance on using only homemade stock in all ramen selections. Reasonably priced selections usually not exceeding 800 yen.
Murasaki: A quant and intimate izakaya (Japanese tapas bar) located 4 minutes East by foot from Shirakabe no Machi. For foreigners not familiar with the concept of an izakaya, this establishment serves as an excellent and Western-friendly point of introduction.
Sanzoku: 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. From Yanai by car, proceed North on Prefectural Route 70 to National Highway 2. Located on the left. For those located near Iwakuni and/or familiar with the large American military presence there, it will often be referred to as the "Chicken Shack".
Taiwanya: There are many menues in the resraurant, but majority of people(regular customer) eat 'shiru-soba','shiru-bihun','yaki-soba'and 'yaki-bihun.' They are most famaus and delicious ones. The restaurant is run by a man and his wife. You can also take out the dishes if you say in advance. The place is near Shirakabe no Machi.