In the Edo period (1603-1868) in Japan, Yokkaichi flourished as a shukuba or 'post town' where travelers could rest. Most of the activity in the town was centered in and around the seaport. During the Meiji period (1868-1912), Yokkaichi Port grew into an important commercial seaport. Following restoration and modernization by InabaSan-emon, a wealthy merchant who lived in the town, the port developed further and was opened to foreign trade in 1899. This provided the impetus for the establishment of large silk and cotton yarn spinning mills that employed Western technology and the introduction of innovative technologies to local industriessuch as pottery and tea manufacture.