Part of the forest of Tokorozawa (dubbed “Kaminoyama”), which inspired Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki while working on his classic My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ), is petitioning to become a nature reserve.
A couple of years ago, Miyazaki-sensei reportedly told Tokorozawa mayor Masato Fujimoto that the scenery is “what gave birth to Totoro,” noting that he lives nearby exactly because of that.
Making good on his word that the forest is important to him, Miyazaki-sensei will see Studio Ghibli support the crowdfunding campaign — to be held in September 2022 — to help the Tokorozawa forest become a nature reserve as an “urban green park.”
Where is the My Neighbor Totoro forest in Japan?
The town of Tokorozawa is located just north of Tokyo, in Saitama Prefecture. The area where Kaminoyama is located consists of 3.5 hectares of greenery and is close to the Fuchi no Mori public nature park. Kaminoyama numbers some 7,000 trees.
According to government officials, the city of Tokorozawa is planning to convert 8.6 acres of the forest into a protected reserve, with the current owners agreeing to sell the land for ca. US$20 million. The city will secure US$13.4 million, with the remainder to be provided by Studio Ghibli and local donations.
Studio Ghibli will support the crowdfunding campaign by offering 1,000 sets of five B4-size reproductions in wooden frames for US$186 per set, all featuring My Neighbor Totoro countryside background art reproductions.
Additional sets may be offered at a later date if needed.
My Neighbor Totoro: an undying classic
My Neighbor Totoro was released in April 1988. Directed by Miyazaki-sensei and animated by Studio Ghibli, the film remains a classic and one of the best-known Studio Ghibli projects.
Totoro has since become a widely recognizable cultural icon. Not only has he made a number of cameo appearances in various Studio Ghibli films (Kiki’s Delivery Service, Whisper of the Heart, Pom Poco…), but he is also part of the Studio Ghibli logo. He also lent his name to an asteroid discovered in December 1994 (10160 Totoro).
The plot follows two little sisters (Satsuki and Mei) who are befriended by wood spirits (susuwatari). Set in postwar rural Japan, the film depicts the adventures of the girls set against the backdrop of their mother’s illness and their father’s efforts to keep the family happy.
My Neighbor Totoro received multiple awards upon being released, notably the Mainichi Film Award, the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize, and Kinema Junpo Award for Best Film.