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Sunday, February 13, 2022

Ghibli Park in Aichi

Ghibli Park in Aichi

Ghibli Park in Aichi

Most of us have been touched by a classic Ghibli movie at some time in our lives, and now that Studio Ghibli magic is being brought to life in the autumn of 2022 with the opening of Ghibli Park in Aichi.

The theme park is set to open on 1 November 2022, just in time for the reopening of Japan to overseas tourists. The sprawling attraction is located at Expo Memorial Park in Nagakute, Aichi Prefecture.

The 7.1-hectare park will feature attractions from iconic films such as Mononoke Village from Princess Mononoke, and the castle from Howl’s Moving Castle. The experience will be enhanced with Ghibli themed cafes, restaurants, and playgrounds.

The theme park will be divided into five different areas: Hill of Youth, Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse, Mononoke’s Village, Valley of Witches and Dondoko Forest.

The entry to Ghibli Park
The Entry to Ghibli Park via the Elevator Tower

The facility will initially open with 3 areas which are the Hill of Youth, Ghibli's Grand Warehouse and Dondoko Forest. The other two areas will open in the near future with Mononoke's Village scheduled to open in 2023 and the Valley of Witches in March 2024. 

The lush green park was the site of the 2005 Aichi World Expo, so it is a perfect match for the nature of the famous flicks.

Hill of Youth 

Located near the north entrance of the park, this area is modeled after the settings of "Whisper of the Heart" (1995) and "The Cat Returns" (2002). The highlight here is the recreation of the World Emporium, the antique shop from Whisper of the Heart. The attention to detail in the shop is amazing with food in the refrigerator and even trash in the garbage bin. 

The World Emporium
The World Emporium at the Hill of Youth

The Cat Returns
The Cat Returns

Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse

This large indoor area covering 9,600 square meters is home to an exhibition room, a children’s playground, shops, restaurants, and a small theatre. The idea of this area is to allow visitors to immerse themselves in the whimsical worlds of Ghibli and interact with famous scenes from the movies. You can see the Iron Giant from "Laputa: Castle in the Sky" (1986) and take a virtual train ride with Kaonashi from "Spirited Away" (2001). 

Ghibli's Grand Warehouse
Ghibli's Grand Warehouse

The Iron Giant from Laputa
The Iron Giant from Laputa 

Dondoko Forest

Dondoko Forest is dedicated to the film "My Neighbor Totoro" (1988) with a 5-meter-tall wooden Totoro that visitors can actually climb inside. 

Dondoko Forest
Dondoko Forest

A five-meter-tall wooden Totoro at Dondoko Forest

The highlight of the Dondoko Forest area is walking through Satsuki and Mei’s house from My Neighbor Totoro, which was set in a rural landscape from the Showa period (1926-1989). The attention to detail in the house is amazing with period-specific furniture and items. There are actual real items from the 1950's here including newspapers and books. Part of the fun is looking around and discovering all the small details. 

Satsuki and Mei's House
Satsuki and Mei's House from My Neighbor Totoro

Inside the house
Real Show Era items inside the house

Mononoke’s Village

Mononoke’s Village will feature a real-life recreation of Tatara-ba, the irontown depicted in the movie "Princess Mononoke" (1997). The beautiful scenery will transport you back in time to the Muromachi period (1336-1573) of Japanese history, where the movie is set.

Mononoke's Village
Mononoke's Village (Photo: ©Studio Ghibli)

Valley of Witches

The Valley of Witches draws inspiration from films that feature protagonists with magic powers such as "Howl’s Moving Castle" (2004) and "Kiki’s Delivery Service" (1989).

It will be home to a real-life, 16-meter-tall replica of Howl’s Moving Castle, including moving cannons resembling eyeballs.

Howl's Moving Castle
Howl's Moving Castle (Photo: ©Studio Ghibli)

Entry to the Expo Memorial Park is free but visitors will need to reserve tickets in order to enter each of the five areas. 

Adult tickets for Ghibli's Grand Warehouse cost 2,000 yen on weekdays and 2,500 yen on weekends, while entry to the Hill of Youth and Dondoko Forest is 1,000 yen at all times. The fees for children are half-price.

This will be no ordinary theme park. You will not find rollercoasters or death-defying rides here, but simply a fantasy world, where you can feel part of your favourite Ghibli movie.

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