I first heard about Tomonoura (鞆の浦) when I came across an article about places that become inspiration for Ghibli movies. Anyone who watched Ponyo might recognize the scenery. The place looks soooooo beautiful in picture, so it became my must-visit list in Japan. Last Autumn, I finally had a chance to witness the beauty of this port town.
Tomonoura is easily accessible by public transportation. From Bus Station right next to JR Fukushima Station, just hop into a bus at bus stop no 5 bound to Tomo Port (鞆港, Tomokō). The journey takes about 30 minutes (13 stops). Don’t worry that you might miss the stop, because the driver would likely to announce it. Besides, 90% of the passengers are heading to Tomonoura. There is also tourist map available on board that you can take for free.
You can start wandering right away or you might want to visit tourist information center first just across the street to get more maps. Believe me there are many types of map available there that each dedicated for different purposes. Want a quick walking route? Filming location route? Pilgrimage route? They have it all. There’s also a mini exhibition held inside.
After you got your map, just go along with the recommended route. Take a brief pause once awhile to adore beautiful scenery along the coast.
One of the most popular spot is Joyato lighthouse which is built during Edo period. It became the symbol of this town and also appeared on many drama/movie/anime that filmed in Tomonoura. Yup, it maybe just as popular as Hachiko that many people want to take a picture with this lighthouse. It’s made from stone and only 11 meter tall.
Near the lighthouse, there’s a small cafe that also appeared on few dramas/movies, including Gintama and Detective Mitarai’s Case Book.
Actually, you can spot Detective Mitarai’s Case Book filming location easily because they put this life-size placard around the town.
After admiring sea view from the pier , it’s time to explore the town. There are so many old looking and not-so-old looking house. Some are so old that they become a tourist spot.
At this moment I lost my way, lol. Then saw a stair and decided to climb it. It brings me to Ioji Temple. You can look over the whole pier and sea view from here.
Back to the town and finally found my way back to the route shown on map. But really, maybe it’s me who is not keen to something historical or maybe they have unusual criteria to pick a tourist spot, like this bridge called “heart-broken bridge”:
You know what, I’m more a nature person, so let’s just go back to the pier….. and get lost again. But hey, look what I found, it’s Ponyo!
If you get lost like what I did, don’t panic. The town is small so just follow the wind to get you back to the pier. After a good 2,5 hours, I decided to finish the trip. While waiting for the bus back to Fukuyama Station, I tried to look for a Ponyo-related souvenir at Tourist Information Centre. There’s none. So for Ponyo fans, even though you barely could find her, just relax and enjoy the beautiful nature of Tomonoura.