Totoro will soon be the neighbor of…whoever might live in Nagoya, Japan near what’s soon to be the My Neighbor Totoro theme park. Lucky for the My Neighbor Totoro park’s neighbors, BBC reports that the “theme park” hailing from the famed, Hayao Miyazaki-founded Studio Ghibli doesn’t sound like it’ll be your typical theme park. The theme it’s centered around, like that of the film on which it’s based, is “respecting and embracing nature.”
Anime News Network translated a piece from Chunichu Web yesterday further detailing the plans. The goal is to open the park in 2020. In keeping with the not-your-usual-theme-park theme park thing, it will have no rides whatsoever, and construction will be planned to avoid felling trees, according to Aichi Prefecture Governor Hideaki Omura, who announced the park at a press conference yesterday, alongside Studio Ghibli’s Toshio Suzuki. The site of the park (Moricoro Park) is pretty perfectly primed — in fact, moreso than any other place in the world — to serve the exact purpose it’s been given, as it currently hosts a life-sized replica of the country house in which sisters Satsuki and Mei live in My Neighbor Totoro. (It was the former site of the 2005 World Expo, for which the house was built.)
Miyazaki’s 1988 film, set in 1958, follows young sisters Satsuki and Mei as they and their father ease into relocated lives in the country, in order to be close to their mother, who’s being treated at a nearby hospital. There, the sisters meet and befriend huge tree spirit who goes by the name of Totoro, and whose company helps them through the uncertainty about the state of their mother’s health.
As Flavorwire noted back in 2015, Miyazaki himself also has a totally separate nature reserve project in the works — a children’s facility on Kume Island with 10,000 square meters of forest; that’s called “The Forest Where the Wind Returns,” and is set — if all is still going according to plan — to open in 2018.
Imagine if, instead of the melted, flooded, overheated wasteland our benevolent “politicians” are envisioning for our future, the world could just slowly turn into a series of eco-conscious Miyazaki theme parks teaching children about the importance of respecting the natural world. Such loveliness is pretty hard to fathom in this reality; I wonder how far Moricoco Park is above sea level.