The Joyato Lighthouse was built during the Edo Period (1603-1867) and is a symbol of Tomonoura. The eleven meter tall structure stands prominently at the waterfront directly south of the town center.
Tomonoura (鞆の浦) is a port town at the southern end of Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture. Situated at a bay facing the Seto Inland Sea, the picturesque port town features an endearing old-fashioned fishing townscape, with a calm and laid-back atmosphere. Tomonoura is part of the Setonaikai National Park.
Tomonoura prospered in the olden days of sail boats, when merchant ships traveling along the Seto Inland Sea would dock at its port while waiting for a favorable tide. The town center flourished with the bustling sea activity, leading to thriving industries such as the production of "homeishu", a medicinal liquor of shochu and 16 types of herbs, said to promote longevity.
In recent years, Tomonoura has been picked as a filming location for several international and local movies, such as "The Wolverine" starring Hugh Jackman and "Ponyo on the Cliff" by the popular Studio Ghibli. The port town portrayed in the beginning of "Ponyo on the Cliff" was modeled after Tomonoura.
The old town center of Tomonoura has many photogenic alleys lined by rustic old houses with wooden facades. There are a few shops selling homeishu, the local medicinal liquor. The bayfront area is littered with small boats, demonstrating the port's continuing relevancy. Here are some attractions around the town center:
A wealth of temples and shrines surround the town center, remaining today both as reminders of Tomonoura's heritage and as local attractions. Some of the town's best views can be seen at some of these places of worship:
Tomonoura is best accessed from Fukuyama Station by buses that run every 20 minutes. There are no English signs, so look out for buses bound for Tomo Port (鞆港, Tomokō) at bus stop number 5 just in front of the station exit. It takes about 30 minutes and costs 520 yen to get to the Tomonoura (鞆の浦) bus stop next to the visitor center, and 35 minutes and 550 yen to get to the Tomo Port bus stop where buses turn around and make the return trip. Besides cash, Icoca and Paspy IC cards are accepted on these buses, but other IC cards are not.
Fukuyama Station is on the JR Sanyo Shinkansen. Direct Sakura and Nozomi shinkansen trains connect Shin-Osaka Station to Fukuyama Station, costing about 7500 yen one way and taking slightly more than an hour. The Japan Rail Pass fully covers the trip on Sakura trains but not on Nozomi trains.
Direct Nozomi trains connect Tokyo Station to Fukuyama Station (225 minutes, about 17,000 yen one way, hourly departures). The Japan Rail Pass is not valid on Nozomi trains. Pass holders should take Hikari and Sakura trains via Shin-Osaka Station, instead, which adds about 30-60 minutes to the journey.
The attractions of Tomonoura are within distances from the bus stops that can be comfortably covered on foot. Rental bicycles are an alternative. There is a rental outlet next to the terminal from where the ferries to Sensuijima Island depart. Bicycles cost 300 yen for the first two hours and 100 yen per 30 minutes thereafter.