It’s been rumored for years and years, but finally Studio Ghibli, the creators of films like Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Grave of the Fireflies, and My Neighbor Totoro is finally opening a theme park in their homeland of Japan.
Announced today at a press conference in Tokyo held by longtime producer Toshio Suzuki, along with the Governor of the Aichi Prefecture Hideaki Omura and Chunichi CEO Uichiro Oshima, the new park – which will be housed in the Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park, a 460 acre site near Nagoya in central Japan – is set to open in the fall of 2022, and is the final step towards Hayao Miyazaki basically fulfilling his destiny as the Walt Disney of Japan.
As a part of the overall planning of the park, five-themed areas are currently envisioned as being based upon specific Ghibli films, with Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle specifically cited. I have to assume my dream of learning how to farm in an Only Yesterday themed attraction is never going to happen…I’ll probably have to settle for riding a cat bus.
Variety, who relayed details of the press conference, shared the following from Suzuki, providing assurance that Miya-san will be actively involved in the creative aspects of the park:
Miyazaki, who is currently working on a new feature, “is really worried about the Ghibli park,” Suzuki jokingly told reporters. “He can’t leave anything up to other people. He’s a meddlesome old man.” Miyazaki’s only son Goro Miyazaki “is working hard (on the park project), but (Miyazaki) is not the type to look on supportively from a distance,” Suzuki continued. “He starts in right away with ‘do this’ and ‘don’t do that’.”
That new feature they mention is called How Do You Live?, a film that Miyazaki is making with his grandson in mind, and is named after the 1937 novel by Genzaburo Yoshino which plays a key influence on the film (though the level of actual adaptation is up for question). It’s projected for a 2020 release.
This wouldn’t be the first Ghibli themed attraction in Japan though, as the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka attracts many, many visitors daily. I even went there myself a few weeks ago. To be honest, I found it a bit of a disappointment, as its content was a rather thin and almost none of it was translated – a bit surprising for something so international in its draw, but all the same, a pleasure to see a bit of process art for a number of features that I’ve loved for so many years.
But a new Ghibli theme park? Another great excuse to visit Japan!