‘My Neighbor Totoro’ forest that inspired Hayao Miyazaki classic to become a protected preserve

  • On June 2, Tokorozawa, Japan, Mayor Masato Fujimoto declared that the city would be preserving Totoro's forest.
  • Totoro no Mori, or Totoro's forest, is a forest located in Sayama Hills. The forest was the main source of inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki’s 1998 film, “My Neighbor Totoro.”
  • The project is expected to cost 2.6 billion yen (approximately $19.35 million) and cover the 8.6-acre forest.
  • The funds will be provided through city funds, crowdfunding, Miyazaki’s personal contributions and donations by Studio Ghibli.

Totoro no Mori, the Japanese forest that inspired Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli film “My Neighbor Totoro,” will become a protected nature preserve.

The forest where protagonist sisters Satsuki and Mei first meet Totoro in the movie is modeled after Totoro no Mori, as is the town where they live.

On June 2, Tokorozawa Mayor Masato Fujimoto declared the city would be preserving the 8.6-acre forest. The project will purportedly protect approximately 7,000 trees located in the area.

Fujimoto credited Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli for their contributions and revealed that crowdfunding and city funds would support the 2.6-billion-yen (approximately $19.35 million) project. In addition to government funding, Miyazaki has provided 300 million yen (approximately $2.23 million). Studio Ghibli is also aiding in the collection of funds by providing “Totoro” production materials and offering reproductions of five background paintings from the original film as fan donation incentives. The funds are meant to aid the government in purchasing the property from its current landowners. 

Totoro no Mori is a forest located 24 miles from Tokyo in Sayama Hills, across Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture. The name was given to the forest upon director Miyazaki’s crediting of the forest as direct inspirating his 1988 film.

During a forest walk with Mayor Fujimoto in 2018, Miyazaki stated,

“This scenery is what gave birth to Totoro. It’s important to me, and it’s why I live near here,” Miyazaki said during a forest walk with Mayor Fujimoto in 2018.

The esteemed filmmaker has lived in the area since 1970. 

In Totoro’s forest, there are several museums, centers, walking trails and a Totoro statue for visitors. Some of the most popular attractions include the Kurosuke House exhibit, Hachikokuyama Park and Tamichika Cafe. 

The Totoro no Furusato Foundation, founded in April 1990, has played a critical role in preserving and maintaining the forest. Miyazaki serves as a member of the organization. 


Feature image via HBO Max Family

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