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!
Entertainment Editor for The Beat covering film, television and the occasional comic book. His work can also be found at GeekRex.com and can be heard on the GeekRex podcast. He really loves the Legion of Super-Heroes a lot.