The inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘Ponyo on the Sea by the Cliff.’
A picture-perfect port city of literature and history, Tomonoura is a fascinating destination in Hiroshima Prefecture.
Thought to be one of the most beautiful places in Japan, ancient Japanese dignitaries would hold their most important meetings in the port town of Tomonoura. Before the 1900s, if an ambassador of Korea ever came to Japan they would be housed in the Tomonoura with the belief that its beauty would lull them into a state of tranquillity perfect for negotiations.
The town’s scenery is so gorgeous that it has played muse to many artists over the years. The most famous of which is Hayao Miyazaki, who was so taken with the landscape that he set his animated feature Ponyo on the Sea by the Cliff, in Tomonoura.
The town also boasts actor Hugh Jackman as another famous visitor.
The film follows the character Ponyo, a goldfish that dreams of becoming human after meeting a boy from Tomonoura. You can see clues to Miyazaki’s visit around the town such as, painted murals of Ponyo at sights that helped bring the film to life. The town also boasts actor Hugh Jackman as another famous visitor. In 2012, he came to Tomonoura to film “The Wolverine,” and in the story he uses the town to hide from assassins. The locals are very proud of their involvement with both of these films and sell merchandise promoting them.
But, Tomonoura has more to offer in the spiritual realm, too. The town has a variety of beautiful Edo period buildings, such as Fukuzen-ji Temple and Joyato Lighthouse. You can’t escape the older-style buildings, with even the most modern constructions being made to be in keeping with the local aesthetic.
The area’s museums, like Irohamaru Museum and the Tomonoura Museum of History and Folklore, will tell you the secrets of the local area.
Must-try local liqueur
Tomonoura’s must-try item is the local liqueur. Homeishu is made from a blend of sixteen local herbs, has a sweet licorice taste, and an alcohol content of 14 percent. It is said to help with fatigue, sensitivity to the cold, and is held up as the reason for the continuing health of the town’s elderly residents.
In the area
The Peninsula is packed full of fun activities, but if you feel like exploring a larger area, it is attached to Fukuyama city. It’s the second-largest city in Hiroshima Prefecture and is a great place to experience the conveniences of an urban area without the overwhelming amounts of people you might find in bigger places like Osaka or Tokyo. The city is also known for its beauty but is sometimes overshadowed by the famous tiny town just 20 minutes away.
You can find spectacular gardens at Shinsho-ji Temple and get a breath-taking view of the city from Fukuyama Castle.