Mitarai at the eastern edge of Osaki Shimojima in the Inland Sea was once a major port, due in large part to its sheltered anchorage that enable many ships to safely wait for the winds to change to continue on with their journey.
The port prospered as daimyo as well as foreign embassies stopped here on their way to Edo. It also became a transhipment point in the Inland Sea and so warehouses and trading houses became established.
Mitarai was spared the development that plagued much of Japan in the latter half of the twentieth century and much of the architecture harks back to the Edo period. It is now a designated Historic Preservation District.
One of the preserved buildings is from what was perhaps the most important "product" of the town..... sex!..... at its peak about 20% of the inhabitants were prostitutes, and one of the brothels is now a tourist attraction...... more on that later....