Top 9 Must-See Spots in Fukuyama & Tomonoura, Hiroshima: Exploring the Real-Life Locations of “Ponyo”


What is Fukuyama City and Tomonoura?

Fukuyama City is located in the easternmost part of Hiroshima Prefecture, in the center of the Seto Inland Sea coast, and is the eastern gateway to Hiroshima Prefecture. Tomonoura, located in Fukuyama City, is a retro port town that has been recognized as a Japanese Heritage site, and has long developed as a major port in the Seto Inland Sea that plays a central role in the Japanese economy. As a result, the area offers visitors a chance to enjoy the good old town atmosphere. It is also the place associated with Ryoma Sakamoto, a historical figure in Japan. In this issue, we will introduce nine carefully selected sightseeing spots in the Fukuyama/Tomonoura area that you should visit!

9 Sightseeing Spots

Fukuyama Castle / Fukuyama Castle Museum (福山城 / 福山城博物館)

Fukuyama Castle is located a 5-minute walk from Fukuyama Station. The castle was built in 1622, the last castle built in the Edo period, and was the symbol of the clan throughout the Edo period. It is now a familiar symbol of Fukuyama City. Today, the castle is a museum where visitors can learn about the history of the area as the “Fukuyama Castle Museum,” displaying documents and relics of the successive lords of the domain.

Abuto Kannon Temple (阿伏兎観音)

Abuto-kannon is a temple that sits on a cliff at the tip of Abuto Cape, located in the southern part of Fukuyama City. The vermilion-lacquered Kannon Hall is known as one of the most spectacular views of the Seto Inland Sea, harmonizing with the rugged cliff face and beautiful sea glow. Since ancient times, the temple has also been a place of prayer for safe voyages and childbirth.

You can walk around the temple grounds when you pay the entrance fee. The temple is built on a cliff and surrounded by the sea, so it may seem a little scary, but it is a great place to visit for a spectacular view of the sea.

Miroku no Sato (みろくの里)

Miroku no Sato is a theme park spread over 2.1 million square meters of hilly terrain, with an amusement park with more than 20 different attractions and a retro area that faithfully reproduces the streets of the 1950s, as if you have stepped back in time. The park is a place where everyone from kids to seniors can have fun together. With a leisure pool in summer and illumination in winter, this is a leisure facility that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Tomonoura (鞆の浦)

Tomonoura is an area located almost in the center of the Seto Inland Sea coast, 14 km south of Fukuyama Station. It is a port town that has long prospered through trade with Japan and other countries, and is one of the first scenic spots in Japan to be designated as a national park. The area has many historical remains and historic sites, and in recent years has attracted attention as a filming location for movies. The Ghibli movie “Ponyo” is also said to be set in Tomonoura.

Tomonoura is a perfect area for shrine and temple tours as it is dotted with numerous shrines and temples. Enjoy strolling around while admiring the nostalgic and emotional scenery of the port town.

Onfunayado Iroha (御舟宿いろは)

This restaurant and inn was created by renovating a historic old private house that appears on the stage of history, which was also used by Ryoma Sakamoto as a place to hold talks at the end of the Edo period. The design was based on the design drawings of Hayao Miyazaki, the director of Studio Ghibli, and the renovations were based on his drawings. Tomonoura is famous for its abundant sea bream harvest, and here you can enjoy dishes using fresh sea bream. Lunch is also available for non-guests, so please visit here to enjoy the delicious sea bream from the Seto Inland Sea.

Ootake Jutaku/Ota Family Residence (太田家住宅)

The Ota Family Residence is a building that was once the warehouse of Homeishu, a medicinal sake produced in Tomonoura since the Edo period. Designated as a National Important Cultural Property, it is a representative building of early modern merchant architecture in the Seto Inland Sea. The nine buildings, including the main building and brewery warehouse, have been beautifully preserved in good condition, and are buildings of historical value that give visitors an idea of how prosperous merchant families were in the Edo period. Please visit them when you come to Tomonoura.

Fukuzenji Temple Taichoro (福禅寺 対潮楼)

Taichoro Pavilion , adjacent to the main hall of Fukuzenji Temple, was built around 1690 as a guest house. During the Edo period (1603-1868), the Taichoro was used as a guest house for Joseon Tongsinsa, and also served as a place for exchange with Japanese scholars of Chinese and calligraphers. It is designated as a national historic site, and the view of the Seto Inland Sea from the tatami room is magnificent. You can enjoy a panoramic view of the iconic landscape of Tomonoura with Sensuijima Island and Bentenjima island floating in the distance.

Sensuijima Island (仙酔島)

Sensuijima Island is a remote island that can be reached by boat from the Tomonoura fishing port in about five minutes. Along with Bentenjima island, it boasts a spectacular view that is representative of the Tomonoura area. Although Senanajima is uninhabited, there are plenty of leisure spots on the island, as well as many accommodations such as hot springs and inns. In summer, the beaches are open to the public, and hiking trails are well maintained, attracting many tourists. There are many hotels and inns in Tomonoura, but for those who want to enjoy a more secluded and resort-like atmosphere, we recommend staying on Sensuijima. Experience the pristine nature that remains untouched.

Bentenjima Island (弁天島)

Bentenjima is a small uninhabited island between Tomonoura and Sensuijima. Although it is not possible to land on the island, it can be viewed from the boats that travel between Tomonoura and Sensuijima, and from the Fukuzenji Temple Taichoroh.

On the island, Benzaiten, the guardian god of the sea, is enshrined, and the vermilion-painted Benten Hall, a landmark, is designated as an important cultural property of the prefecture. The temple is illuminated at night, creating a different atmosphere than during the day. Every May, the Tomonoura Bentenjima Fireworks Festival, an event that heralds the arrival of early summer, is held and colors the night sky gorgeously.

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