Tomonoura is a cozy port town you’ll find in the bay of the Seto Inland Sea within the Hiroshima prefecture. A part of the Setonaikai National park, Tomonoura is about two hours away from Hiroshima city; remaining largely untouched by time since its establishment, Tomonoura is quite the hidden gem. Much like many of the towns built during the construction of the railroads in the United States, like Yermo in California, you’ll find a certain majestic quality to the rustic artifacts of another time and culture.
During its heyday in the Edo period, Tomonoura had a prosperous maritime economy, bustling with fishermen, merchants, and cargo transportation, as a hub for the supply chain of fish to the central and western regions of Japan. Flourishing from the trade of its geographical perks, Tomonoura began to develop many other industries, most famously Homeishu; the creation process of Homeishu included many medicinal herbs from China, being sold as a drink to improve health and physical wellness. With a 350 year history, Homeishu is one way that the Japanese drink to their health. From the start of the Japanese industrial era and development of rail lines, as well as the establishment of larger ports, Tomonoura’s chapter as a bustling trade city came to a close.
Nestled in the top of the peninsula overlooking the small islands of the Seto Inland Sea National Park, the scenic view of Tomonoura has been inspiring poets and artists for centuries. Today, the preserved houses, alleyways, and docks from the Edo era are a great spot for both film makers and tourists alike. Tomonoura has been the background for the shooting of films such as “The Wolverine” and studio Ghibli’s “Ponyo on the Cliff.” Animation director Hayao Miyazaki chose this town as the setting for Ponyo after spending two months at a house overlooking the port.