Ghibli Park: Studio Ghibli Theme Park Designs Released!

5 Satsuki and Mei's House

Details have been released about the new Studio Ghibli themed park in Aichi prefecture which is set to open between spring 2022 and 2023.

It has been almost a year since Aichi prefecture in central Japan reached an agreement with Studio Ghibli to transform the Expo Memorial Park (also known as Morikoro Park) into Ghibli Park, a new themed park where people will be able to enjoy Studio Ghibli’s hugely popular creations in the great outdoors.

Now Aichi prefecture has released a tantalising sneak peek of how the finished park could look, publishing details of the park’s basic designs provided by Studio Ghibli. It has also agreed with the studio that the park will aim to open for business during FY2022 - in other words, between April 2022 and March 2023.
 

Basic Design of Ghibli Park

2 Ghibli no Osoko overview

Concept designs and descriptions of the park’s basic designs released by Aichi prefecture at the end of April reveal that Ghibli Park will be made up of five main areas, each with a different theme, many of them drawn from some of Studio Ghibli’s most popular and successful films, such as My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke and Kiki’s Delivery Service.

  • Hill of Youth Area (Seishun no Oka Eria, 青春の丘エリア)
  • Ghibli’s Giant Storehouse Area (Ghibli no Osoko Eria, ジブリの大倉庫エリア)
  • Mononoke’s Village Area (Mononoke no Sato Eria, もののけの里エリア)
  • Witch’s Valley Area (Majo no Tani Eria, 魔女の谷エリア)
  • Dondoko Forest Area (Dondoko Mori Eria, どんどこ森エリア)

The agreement between the prefecture and Studio Ghibli states that the studio’s redevelopment must not only avoid doing anything that could damage the park’s natural environment or impair its function as a city park, but that it must also make sensitive and effective use of existing facilities and unused land within the park.

Accordingly, the Giant Storehouse Area will be located in a building that currently houses the park’s heated swimming pool, while the Witch’s Valley Area will make use of unused land near its expansive lawn area. Meanwhile, the Dondoko Forest Area will be located in the section of the park that is already home to Satsuki and Mei’s House, a replica of the Kusakabe family’s house in My Neighbour Totoro.

The agreement also states that the redesign must promote the park as a place that visitors can enjoy exploring on foot, and that Studio Ghibli’s designs must be able to coexist seamlessly with events and activities already taking place in the park. Details of the designs and origins of the names of the areas that have been released so far show that the studio is clearly making efforts to keep to the terms of the agreement.

 

Hill of Youth Area

1 Seishun no Oka

The Hill of Youth Area will be based around the park’s existing Elevator Building, which will act as the park’s main gate, incorporating elements of 19th century fin-de-siecle science fiction as seen in Studio Ghibli films such as Howl’s Moving Castle.

Making use of the sloping ground in the vicinity of the Elevator Building, a replica will be built of the antique shop in the Studio Ghibli film Whisper of the Heart, which is where the heroine Shizuku discovers the cat statuette known as ‘The Baron’ after she follows a cat that was riding the same train as her.

The area’s name is a reference to the storyline of Whisper of the Heart and the fact that it used to be home to the park’s Administrative Building in the park’s former days as Aichi Youth Park.

Ghibli’s Giant Storehouse Area

2 Ghibli no Osoko

Making use of the space currently occupied by the park’s existing heated swimming pool, which will close in September this year, the swimming pool building will be reborn as a facility that can be enjoyed all year round regardless of the weather. As the name suggests, it will house a storehouse, but also exhibition rooms and a children’s playground.

The area has been named to reflect the fact that the building will be a large space filled with plenty of fun and enjoyment, but also that it will function as a storehouse housing exhibits from many of Studio Ghibli’s films.

Mononoke’s Village Area

 3 Mononoke no Sato

Named after the Studio Ghibli film Princess Mononoke, this area will be populated by buildings in the style of those seen in Irontown, an iron-producing town and refuge for social outcasts that appears in the film. 

The theme for the area was chosen in order to harmonize with the typically Japanese landscape of the park’s existing Aichi Satolabo facility, an outdoor laboratory for cultivating ‘satoyama’* landscapes. Statues and other objets d’art in the style of Princess Mononoke, such as the blind boar god Okkoto-nushi, are planned for the plaza.

*‘Satoyama’ refers to the area at the edge of mountain towns or villages between the mountain’s foothills and the settlement’s arable land, which has traditionally been used for small-scale agriculture and forestry.

Witch’s Valley Area

4 Majo no Tani
 
Making use of unused land near the park’s spacious lawn area, the Witch’s Valley Area will be occupied by children’s play facilities including replicas of buildings from Studio Ghibli films such Howl’s Castle in Howl’s Moving Castle and Okino House in Kiki’s Delivery Service, the grass-covered cottage in which the heroine Kiki the witch and her black cat Jiji live.

The area has been named after these two Ghibli films, Howl’s Moving Castle and Kiki’s Delivery Service, which both offer heartwarming stories about magic and magicians.

Dondoko Forest Area

5 Satsuki and Mei's House
 
Already home to a replica of Satsuki and Mei’s house from the Studio Ghibli film My Neighbour Totoro, this area will be redesigned and improved, renovating the walking path in the wooded hills behind the house and unifying the reception design to match that of Satsuki and Mei’s house.

The area is named after the Dondoko Dance that Satsuki and Mei perform with Totoro at night in order to make the seeds they have planted sprout faster in My Neighbour Totoro.

The newly released basic designs, which provide an exciting glimpse into the vision that Studio Ghibli has for the new outdoor facility, are sure to have fans of the studio’s films doing their own Dondoko Dance of joy. The basic designs will now be used as the base for creating a basic plan, the next step in the project’s development. Stay tuned for more news and updates on Ghibli Park as they are releases!

All images copyright ©Studio Ghibli