Studio Ghibli enthusiasts, this one is for you! The company officially opened Ghibli park’s doors to visitors in Japan. So, if Japan has been on your travel bucket list, here’s another reason you should go.
Ghibli Park, which opened on November 1, brings some of the most admired characters and scenes from the studio’s animations to life inside Aichi Earth Expo Memorial Park – the former grounds of Expo 2005- It is operated by a joint venture between Studio Ghibli and the Chunichi Shimbun, a major regional newspaper.
The park’s construction began in 2020, but a very limited number of pictures of the park’s design were revealed. Now that it’s open, fans of the Japanese animation studio’s works can enjoy looking for soot spirits at Satsuki and Mei’s home from “My Neighbor Totoro” or sit quietly on a train next to No Face of “Spirited Away.”
Ghibli Park is not the typical theme park with rollercoasters or other rides. Its aim, instead, is to immerse visitors in the worlds created by the studio’s co-founder and director, Hayao Miyazaki.
“There were some theme park plans with rides and attractions brought to Studio Ghibli, but they didn’t feel like they were a fit with the Ghibli way,”says Mai Sato, a spokesperson for Ghibli Park
Ghibli Park is a park, not an amusement park…the whole idea was to…harmonize with and improve the existing park and its nature.
Areas of the park
The park has five main themed areas around different Ghibli movies located within the grounds and buildings of Expo 2005: Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse, The Hill of Youth, Dondoko Forest, Mononoke Village, and Valley of Witches.
Grand Warehouse area
Ghibli’s Big Warehouse is considered the centerpiece of the park. It’s filled with items, exhibits, and recreations of scenes from the studio’s numerous acclaimed productions, including Spirited Away, which held Japan’s box office record until 2020.
In addition, there is a cinema inside it which shows short films you can only watch there and in the Ghibli Museum, located in Tokyo.
The Hill of Youth
This area is mainly based around the film Howl’s Moving Castle, with an observation tower styled to the period in which the film is set.[This area also features “World Emporium,” which is the antique shop from Whisper of the Heart, as well as “Cat Bureau” from The Cat Returns.
This area is dedicated to My Neighbor Totoro and mimics the location of Satsuki and Mei’s house from the film. Interestingly, The name of this area is inspired by the “Dondoko Odori” dance performed by Satsuki, Mei, and Totoro during a scene from the film. There will also be a wooden playground on the hill behind the house, which is mentioned on the park’s website as “‘Dondoko-do.”
As the area’s name suggests, this village is dedicated to Princess Mononoke and is based on the film’s settings, such as Irontown and Emishi Village. It will also showcase models of the many mystical creatures featured in the movie.
Valley of witches
The area is inspired by Kiki’s Delivery Service and the wastelands in Howl’s Moving Castle. This area will include restaurants and small amusement facilities, keeping to the theme of the park having no big rides or attractions. The area will also have a replica of Kiki and her parent’s home and Gütiokipänjä, the bakery where Kiki works. On the other hand, there will be a life-size Howl’s Moving Castle, set to be four or five stories high, also having the hat shop from the film. The valley will be the park’s biggest area and is set to open in March 2024.
Ghibli park is already packed up with visitors, and admission tickets are sold out until the end of the year.
Let us know in the comments, What’s your favorite ghibli film, and would you love to visit this park someday?