Ochikochi & Villas


For centuries, ships entering Tomonoura on the Seto Inland Sea have sailed into the harbor on the high tide and waited for the low tide to set sail. When the sea was stormy (or rough), we had to wait several days. For this reason, Tomonoura prospered as a place “tide-waiting” (“shiomachi” in Japanese). The advent of motorized vessels that could ignore the tides lessened the town’s importance, and it settled into the sleepy little backwater it is today.
Due to the necessity of staying there and the beauty of the surroundings, Tomonoura has been host to numerous historical events and prominent figures. In 1867, the Iroha Maru, carrying the famous samurai Ryoma Sakamoto, collided with the Meiko Maru of the Kishu domain and sank off the coast of Tomonoura, and Ryoma stayed in the town for five days to negotiate compensation. More recently, the makers of the hit anime film “Ponyo” and the movie “Wolverine” were inspired by the town.
The quiet streets of Tomonoura are perfect for strolling and taking in the historical buildings and quirky architecture. With their old homes and temples, and shops of all kinds, from local crafts to ship chandlers, the winding streets and alleys provide a great chance to get a feel for the relaxed lifestyle of the residents. The town boasts 18 temples, some of them dating to the Heian period a thousand years ago. Along the streets, you can see walls made of various shaped ship timbers and other fascinating architectural details.