Explorers or travelers all around the world have one more motivation to travel to Japan. A new theme park devoted to the famous animation organization’s production is at long last open in Aichi prefecture, within an hour from Kyoto via train.
Ghibli Park, which opened on November 1, 2022, brings probably the most beautiful characters and scenes from the studio’s animations to life inside Aichi Earth Exhibition Dedication Park – – the former grounds of Exhibition 2005.
Japan has for the past number of three years,
gone through tough challenges due to Coronavirus. In fact, there was an extraordinary delight even amidst the difficulties. The opening of this exhibition at this time, has overcome Covid 19, few days prior to the park’s official opening.
Since construction began in 2020 (and the news broke a few years before that), small snippets of the park’s design had been shared.
Now that it’s open, fans of the Japanese animation studio’s works can look 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.”
For those who aren’t familiar with Studio Ghibli’s works, “My Neighbor Totoro” is a 1988 animation about two young sisters, Satsuki and Mei, who befriend the whimsical creatures around their new countryside home while waiting for their mother to recover from a long-term illness.
“Spirited Away” is an Academy Award-winning animation about a brave girl named Chihiro and her magical adventure to save her parents and friends. According to those involved with the development of Ghibli Park, it’s not your typical theme park.
The park’s website even warns visitors that “there are no big attractions or rides in Ghibli Park.”
All things being equal, visitors are urged to “go for a walk, feel the breeze, and find the marvels.” Meanwhile, local escorts are worried over whether people will even come and enjoy the place.
The new Ghibli Park brings some of the studio’s most gorgeous scenes to life. Concerning the motivation for the recreation area, the director says it was designed in view of local people. Five regions including an indoor Ghibli town. Spreading over around 17.5 sections of land, Ghibli Park will ultimately have five distinct regions. Three are at present open to guests, with Ghibli’s Excellent warehouse is the main park region.
It’s a large indoor “town” filled with streets, exhibits and famous scenes from Studio Ghibli’s films including the Robot Soldier from “Castle in the Sky” and a real-size Catbus from “Totoro.” A cinema plays shorts that are exclusively available in the new park and at Ghibli Museum in Tokyo.
There are also kid’s playrooms, retro streets, gift shops and two cafes. The second area now open to visitors is Hill of Youth, where guests can find the antique shop from “Whisper of the Heart,” a romantic musical, and its spinoff film “The Cat Returns.” It’s also a vantage point offering a panoramic view of the park.
Dondoko Forest, the third region now open, is dedicated to “My Neighbor Totoro.” It features the house from the animation and a Totoro-themed playground. The two areas yet to open are Mononoke Village, referencing “Princess Mononoke” and her adventures among large forest animal gods, and Valley of Witches, which will include some parts from “Howl’s Moving Castle,” about a young milliner who accidentally gets caught up in a war, and “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” about an earnest and hardworking young witch.
Ghibli Park is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays (except for major school holidays) and from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on public holidays and weekends. It is closed on Tuesdays (unless Tuesday is a holiday).
There is no general admission ticket for the park. Instead, tickets must be booked in advance for each individual area, with costs ranging from JPY1,000, or $6.70 (for Hill of Youth and Dondoko Forest) to JPY2,500, or $16.90 (for Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse on weekends and holidays).
Bookings cannot yet be made through the park’s official website. For now, visitors need to reserve tickets and select entry times for the different areas on this ticket booking website (in Japanese only).
The Aichi Earth Expo Memorial Park is located east of Nagoya City, which is less than two hours from Tokyo or about 50 minutes from Osaka and Kyoto by train.