As you travel through rural Japan, you’ll likely find more than a few places that will remind you of the beautiful rural landscapes featured in Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro. There is one particular area of forest that served as inspiration for the film, and that is the forests of the city of Tokorozawa, north of Tokyo in Saitama Prefecture.
Director Hayao Miyazaki was inspired by his walks through Tokorozawa’s Kaminoyama area, and his association with the city didn’t end with Totoro’s release in 1988. Miyazaki has lived in the city since the 1970s and has made the preservation of natural spaces a personal concern . he is now also inspiring the city administration on a grand scale. On a forest walk with Tokorozawa Mayor Masato Fujimoto in 2018, Miyazaki remarked, “This landscape gave birth to Totoro. It’s important to me and that’s why I live nearby.”
▼ That’s why we have this beautiful book with lovely illustrations by Miyazaki’s wife.
This comment laid the groundwork for the idea that has grown into a Tokorozawa project to convert approximately 3.5 hectares (8.6 acres) of land in Kaminoyama into a conserved and protected green space. The current landowners have agreed to sell their property to the city, which will purchase it at a price of around 2.6 billion yen. The land to be protected currently includes around 7,000 trees.
In addition to government funding, a crowdfunding campaign is being run with support from Studio Ghibli to help cover some of the expenses. Ghibli will provide five My Neighbor Totoro background graphics to be used for framed reproductions of paintings, with sets of five B4 (25.7 x 36.4 centimeters) paintings available for a pledge of 25,000 yen are that can be made by both Tokorozawa residents and those living outside the city.
▼ A sample of one of the artworks
1,000 painting sets will initially be offered in the promotion, which will take place in September, with the possibility of further runs depending on demand
Sources: Yomiuri Shimbun via Yahoo! Japan News about Otakomu, Tokyo Shimbun
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