The spring sunshine made our faces warm and smiling when we sat in the port of the charming Tomonoura. Wooden fishing boats kept the otherwise silent waterfront busy and for a long time, enjoying a local Fukuyama Cola, we watched them come and go. Above us, groups of eagles and seagulls had their own performance nosediving into the water with a hope of catching the fish. On a pier the elegant cranes walked calmly – for a moment it seemed that there were more birds than people in this photogenic old port town!
Located at the southern end of Fukuyama city, Tomonoura is thought to be one of the most beautiful places in Japan. It has been a prosperous key port town for trades in the Seto Inland Sea since ancient times, and also a source of inspiration for many artists. The most famous of which is Hayao Miyazaki, whose animated movie Ponyo’s scenery is largely derived from there. Along our way through the city’s narrow, labyrinthine streets, we spotted lots of souvenirs, homages and his autographs in many showcases and shops.
It was the beginning of the time of the pandemic so we explored the city leisurely without seeing any tourists. The old historical Edo era buildings and temples decorated the streets and several cats were sleeping lazily on the windowsill. The views from the hill of Ioji Temple showed the whole beauty of the nostalgic coast surrounded by wide waves formed by glittering turquoise sea. Behind us in a cemetery, a family of stray shiba inu dogs rested on gravestones and little puppies were playing together. People, mostly aged, smiled and greeted us. We simply loved the laid-back atmosphere and the mixture of old and modern constructions being made to respect the local aesthetic. Hours later, with a small bottle of local herbal liqueur ‘Homeishu’ in our pockets, we finally said goodbye to this little town that surely became one of our favourite cities in Japan!