[Update, June 10] The governor of Aichi prefecture, Hideaki Omori, has announced that construction has been delayed due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. However, three areas in the Ghibli Park – Dondoko Forest, Ghibli’s Large Warehouse and Hill of Youth – are still on track to be completed for the opening in autumn 2022. Construction will begin in late July.
[December 16 2019] The first Ghibli Park in Japan – and the world for that matter – won’t open for another three years. However, lots have been revealed about the attractions that will populate the site, which is set within the Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park in Nagakute City near Nagoya (about three hours by train from Tokyo). While we agree it may be a tad too early to get all excited, we can't help but pore over all the artist impressions of the theme park that have been made public so far. So, if you're a big fan like us, here's what you can expect from the world-famous creators of the hit anime ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ (1988), ‘Princess Mononoke’ (1997) and the Oscar-winning ‘Spirited Away’ (2001).
Studio Ghibli has announced that its first theme park will be divided into five areas: Hill of Youth, Ghibli’s Large Warehouse, Mononoke’s Village, Valley of Witches and Dondoko Forest. All these attractions are based on the studio’s most famous flicks and will blend in perfectly with the location’s existing nature.
Located close to the north entrance of the park, the Hill of Youth is based on ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ (2004). There will be a yellow gate and observation tower featuring fictitious 19th century objects.
Fans of ‘Whisper of the Heart’ (1995), which was set in the Tokyo neighbourhood of Seiseki-Sakuragaoka in Western Tokyo, will recognise this red building. With the surrounding greenery, it looks exactly like the antique shop in the movie.
A former swimming pool which closed down in September 2018 will be transformed into the Ghibli’s Large Warehouse. This part of the theme park will be shielded from the elements, so you can still enjoy the attraction regardless of the weather.
The indoor area will house an exhibition room, a small cinema, a children’s playground, shops and restaurants, plus a warehouse to store all the exhibits. The vibrant and eclectic setting will incorporate Japanese and Western architectural designs.
Mononoke’s Village sees a real-life recreation of Tatara-ba, the Irontown depicted in the movie ‘Princess Mononoke’. ‘Tatara’ refers to the traditional Japanese furnace that’s used for smelting iron and steel while ‘Mononoke’ means spirit or supernatural monster. As such, you’ll find figures of the powerful god of destruction (otherwise also known as ‘tatari gami’ in the movie), the boar god Lord Okkoto as well as other mystical creatures within the premises. The scenery takes you back to a rural landscape from the Muromachi period (1336-1573), in which the movie is set.
The design of the Valley of Witches draws inspiration from ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ and ‘Kiki's Delivery Service’ (1989) – both films feature protagonists who are able to perform magic.
This aerial-view illustration of a European cityscape features restaurants, amusement facilities and rest areas, along with a real-life Howl’s Castle and the family home of Kiki.
Surrounded by lush nature, the Dondoko Forest resembles a rural landscape from the Showa period (1926–1989) and features Satsuki and Mei’s house from ‘My Neighbor Totoro’. The area’s name is derived from the ‘Dondoko Dance’, which the two sisters perform together with the spirit Totoro in hopes that the seeds they sowed earlier will sprout.
Looking at these preliminary visuals, we can't wait to venture into the fantasy world of Studio Ghibli. The thing is, not everything will open at the same time. The Hill of Youth, Ghibli’s Large Warehouse and the Dondoko Forest are scheduled to open in autumn 2022 while Mononoke’s Village and the Valley of Witches will not be ready until a year later in autumn 2023. We’ll keep you posted as we get more updates on the Ghibli Park.
In the meantime, visit the official Ghibli Museum in Mitaka to brush up on your Studio Ghibli knowledge.