Two and a half years ago, we featured concept art for the Studio Ghibli theme park at Open Culture, and it was only two weeks ago that the park opened. Located on the grounds of Expo 2005 in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture (a three- to four-hour train ride west from Tokyo, or a two-hour train ride east of Osaka), Ghibli Park comprises several themed areas such as the Grand Warehouse, the Youth Hill, and the Dondoko Forest. . The mere hearing of the names must have fired the imagination of many Ghibli fans, before they even heard of the park’s visitor-ready reconstruction of everything from Castle in the skybroken garden for Whisper of the Heartantique shop for My neighbor Totoroat Catbus.
“Unlike Disneyland, Ghibli Park does not feature roller coasters or rides,” wrote Margherita Cole of My Modern Met. “Instead, it welcomes visitors to immerse themselves in life-size sets that are harmoniously integrated with nature.” You can find out how this concept is executed in the fifteen minute video at the top of the post from Japan-based travel vloggers Didi and Bryan.
Inside, they pass through the aforementioned halls as well as others including the Cinema Orion, which screens ten short films that can only be seen at the Ghibli Museum, and the Siberian milk shop, which offers the eponymous sponge cake from Wind UpGhibli mastermind Hayao Miyazaki’s final animated feature — or rather, the penultimate animated feature.
Miyazaki who repeatedly did not retire returned to the studio in 2016 to start a film called How do you live?. Although the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down production by forcing him and his colleagues to work from home, it doesn’t appear to have put the construction of the new theme park off track. In three years time, Cole wrote, “Ghibli Gardens will open its final two chapters — Mononoke no sato (‘Mononoke Village’) and Majo no tani (‘Valley of the Witch’) — dedicated to the film Mononoke’s daughter and Kiki Delivery Service, each. There may even be travel in the future, as some of the concept art appears to depict a rotating teacup inspired by the cat Jiji Kiki. It’s going to take some careful designing: certain other animation studios with long-established theme parks have their own cup of tea rides – and a little patience for real copycats, no matter the artistic heights they aim for.
Studio Ghibli Releases Tantalizing Concept Art for Its New Amusement Park, Opening in Japan in 2022
Virtual Tour inside Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli Museum
Studio Ghibli Creates 1,178 Free Images to Download from My neighbor Totoro, Spirit & Other Favorite Animated Movies
Hayao Miyazaki, A Teacher’s Mind: A Meticulous Video Essay Reveals The Driving Force Behind Animators’ Extraordinary Work
Watch Hayao Miyazaki’s Beloved Character Enter the Real World
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcastst about the city, language and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter book about cities, book The City Without a State: A Journey through 21st Century Los Angeles and video series City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.