It is said that name "Yawatahama" (八幡浜) comes from long ago when debris from a festival at the main Hachiman (八幡) shrine in Usa, Ōita, floated up on the beach (浜) in what is now modern-day Yawatahama.
Yawatahama exists as a link between The Sadamisaki Peninsula, Japan's longest Peninsula, and the rest of Shikoku. For a long time, the city has been an important harbor for Ehime Prefecture and Shikoku.
Known as Japan's best producer of mikans, Yawatahama's agricultural industry centers around the cultivation and production of these citrus fruits. Mikan groves are primarily located on the city's mountain sides in order to receive the maximum amount of sunlight.
Yawatahama's mikan production is governed by the Nishiuwa Agricultural cooperative, which is responsible for the distribution and branding of Yawatahama mikans. This cooperative distributes the fruits nation-wide under such brand names as "Hinomaru" (日の丸) and "Kawakami" (川上).
Occasional snow during the winter months can deal great damage to the mikan industry.
Yawatahama Port is located on the cost of Ehime, bordering the Uwa Sea, at the Sadamisaki Peninsula. Because of its location as well as its proximity to the Inland Sea, Yawatahama's fishing and marine products industry had been able to prosper for many years.
As a major fishing port for Ehime Prefecture, the town has a daily fish market where marine products are available at wholesale to restaurants and supermarkets. A few times each month, the town offers a weekend fish market which is open to the public. While the Uwa Sea offers a wide variety of fish and shellfish products, Yawatahama's regional specialty is Japanese Jack Mackerel (鯵 "aji").
Yawatahama's marine product industry extends beyond just fresh fish. The town also specializes in fish products including fish paste and fishcakes made from pureed white fish. This is known as kamaboko (蒲鉾). Yawatahama, along with Uwajima, have numerous shops selling a variety of kamaboko. One local delicacy is jakoten (じゃこ天), or kamaboko fried tempura-style.