Explore the forest from Totoro, Mononoke Village and more
How would you like to experience the worlds of Spirited Away, Totoro and other Ghibli movies come to life? We don’t have to wait too long for it – the much-anticipated Studio Ghibli Theme Park is set to open in Japan in 2022!
In 2017, Studio Ghibli first made the official announcement that it will be developing a massive 494-acre (almost 2 square kilometers!) theme park in Nagakute City, Aichi Prefecture. That’s close to Nagoya, the capital city of Aichi. The choice of location might have at least partly been because a replica of Mei and Satsuki’s house from My Neighbour Totoro, created for the 2005 World’s Fair at Nagakute City, still stands there today. The upcoming theme park will be built around it and incorporate the building as one of its attractions!
Early concept art of the park revealed in 2018 blew us away with beautiful recreations of iconic locations from Hayao Miyazaki’s movies, such as the antique shop from Whisper of the Heart.
Miyazaki himself, along with his son, are closely involved in the development of the theme park.
— 東海テレビ「ニュースOne」 (@tokai_newsone) April 25, 2018
A few weeks ago, the renowned Japanese animation studio announced more details about the park at a Tokyo press conference. Together with their commercial partners, they unveiled a basic plan for five themed zones that got us even more excited!
Three of the five scheduled themed zones – Youth Hill (inspired by Howl’s Moving Castle), Dondoko Forest (based on My Neighbour Totoro) and a Great Ghibli Warehouse – are slated to open earliest in fall 2022. Mononoke Village (based on Princess Mononoke) and the Witches’ Valley (modeled after both Howl’s Moving Castle and Kiki’s Delivery Service) will arrive in the following year.
The new concept art released give us a birds’ eye view of the zones, and we can recognise many landmarks from the celebrated movies.
Youth Hill will feature a recreation of the towering steampunk castle from Howl’s Moving Castle. It includes an elevator that visitors can take up to a viewing platform and see an amazing view of the whole park! The elevators will also serve as a way for visitors to enter the park.
Also part of Youth Hill is the aforementioned replica of the antique shop from Whisper of the Heart. It will be used as an actual shop, selling Studio Ghibli merchandise.
Fans of Totoro, the Dondoko Forest is going to be your heaven on Earth! Modeled after the green countryside of My Neighbour Totoro, Dondoko Forest will be home to the replica of Mei and Satsuki’s house, and it will also have walking trails for visitors to explore the tranquil forest.
The Great Ghibli Warehouse zone is where visitors can take a break at cafes and recreational areas, and shop for Ghibli products. There will also be an exhibition room and video display room, where we hope will host screenings of Studio Ghibli movies. Rumour is that we would get a Cat Bus building in the Warehouse as well!
Taking the epic world of Princess Mononoke as its theme, Mononoke Village is sure to draws crowds. It will replicate Irontown and the Emishi Village from the movie. It’s so immersive, visitors even get to try traditional Japanese charcoal grilling there!
Finally, it’s going to be witching hour all the time at Witches’ Valley! The area combines the magical landmarks from both Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle.
For now, there are no plans to launch traditional rides like roller coasters in the park. While the news just dashed our dreams of riding a Catbus, we totally admire the effort to conserve the natural landscape of the place, as a nod to Miyazaki’s love for nature. As all the concept art show, the Studio Ghibli theme park will integrate the beautiful nature of central Japan, capturing the celebration of nature and its peaceful spirit in the Ghibli movies.
We will see more of how the park will look like after construction starts in 2020.