Yanai prospered as a port town in the Seto Inland Sea. It was one of the largest merchant cities in the region during the late 18th century. The city has a tenderly preserved district where merchants' white-plaster grand homes, built in the traditional kura storehouse style, line the street. This charming district is adorned with hanging goldfish lanterns in the summertime. There are also Yanaijima textile shops. This hand-woven cotton textile, which features stripes in indigo shades, was once hugely popular but production gradually declined in the 19th century. However, with the passion of the local people, Yanaijima was revived about 20 years ago.