Studio Ghibli Theme Park Location Announced
Plans have been unveiled for a Studio Ghibli theme park bringing to life the world and characters of "My Neighbour Totoro" to open near Nagoya in Aichi prefecture.
The tentatively named “Ghibli Park” will be located on the former site of the 2005 World EXPO Park near Nagoya, the capital of Aichi prefecture, in central Japan. It will recreate landmarks and locations from the well-loved Studio Ghibli film “My Neighbour Totoro”, but reportedly will not feature any theme park rides.
The EXPO Park is located 30-45 minutes’ journey east of Nagoya in Nagakute city. Originally opened in 1970 as Aichi Youth Park, the spacious site hosted the World EXPO in 2005. After the end of the EXPO, the land was transferred to Aichi prefecture’s ownership and reopened in 2006 as Aichi Commemorative Park. The site will be transformed into the "Ghibli Park” by 2020, the year of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The park is arguably the ideal location for the new Ghibli theme park, since it is already home to a life-sized recreation of the house where the main characters of the Totoro film - two sisters named Satsuki and Mei - live, originally created for the 2005 EXPO. Satsuki and Mei’s house is already well-visited by fans of the film, attracting some 1.6 million visitors in fiscal 2016, so the new park is sure to draw even more visitors to the area once it opens.
The EXPO Park is blessed with 200 hectares of gently undulating landscapes, lakes and forests, and the creators of the new “Ghibli Park” are keen to avoid making any significant alterations to the topography of the existing site when re-landscaping to create the new theme park. They will seek to preserve the existing trees and plant-life as much as possible, for example, avoiding felling any trees in the wooded parkland in order to sculpt the new attraction.
The plans for the "Ghibli Park" were announced at a press conference on May 31 by Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki and Aichi prefectural governor Hideaki Omura. The park will be a joint venture between Studio Ghibli Inc. and Aichi prefecture. On the choice of site, Omura commented, “Studio Ghibli’s films have love toward living creatures and [the] Earth, which fits the concept of the Expo. I would like to pass down this idea to future generations.”
Fans of Totoro and Ghibli films will have to wait a few more years until they can stretch their legs and enjoy a stroll in the enchanting world of Totoro and his friends, as the park is slated to open in time for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020. In the meantime, for those who cannot wait there are many other Ghibli-related sites in Japan that can be visited, starting with the Mitaka no Mori Studio Ghibli museum in the suburbs of Tokyo.