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.
Old town center
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:
Temples and shrines
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:
How to get to Tomonoura
Tomonoura is best accessed from Fukuyama Station by buses that run every 20-30 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 530 yen to get to the Tomonoura (鞆の浦) bus stop next to the visitor center, and 35 minutes and 560 yen to get to the Tomo Port bus stop where buses turn around and make the return trip. Besides cash, IC cards, including Suica, Pasmo, and Icoca, are accepted on these buses.
How to get around Tomonoura
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, but note that it is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Bicycles cost 500 yen per day.