Ghibli Park in Japan: Everything You Need to Know

A diehard Totoro fan or not, the world’s first Ghibli Park in Japan makes quite the buzz, and rightfully so. The new destination is set to open on November 1 this year at the Aichi Earth Expo Memorial Park (also known as Moricoro Park).

It’s located in Nagakute City near Nagoya — around three hours away from Tokyo by train.

While officials confirmed that there will be no big attractions or rides in Ghibli Park, you can still expect a theme park that rivals Disney’s Hollywood Studio (although we argue it might be better).

Viewers of My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle and Oscar-winning Spirited Away will notice the immediate resemblance of the films’ dreamy sceneries. The Ghibli canon is known for its iconic blend of steampunk and magical realism.

You can expect the site to be close in nature and heavy in iconic architecture seen in Miyazaki’s popular anime films.

Feature image © Studio Ghibli

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What We Know So Far About Ghibli Park

Ghibli Park is located less than two hours away from Kyoto by train — and an hour more if you’re traveling from Tokyo. It’s situated upon the formerly unused grounds within the Aichi Earth Expo Memorial Park, covering about 17.5 acres of land.

The park was formerly the site of the 2005 World Expo. Built Nagakute, Aichi Prefecture, Studio Ghibli had help built a recreation of My Neighbor Totoro’s house. Reportedly, Miyazaki insisted that no trees should be cut down for the park.

Ghibli Park
Image © Studio Ghibli

The entire plot of land itself spans up to 200 hectares, which will further lend to Ghibli’s iconic nature-filled nuance. The former expo’s theme, “nature and people coexisting together,” conveniently captures the studio’s creative direction.

Studio Ghibli has recently published us with illustrations, photos and graphic areal views of the theme park. Multiple artist renderings illustrate sun-basked sights from Howl’s Moving Castle, Arrietty and Castle in the Sky.

A new trailer, released by Aichi Tourism Bureau, teases a short sequence of Satsuki and Mei’s house from My Neighbor Totoro.

What We Don’t Know Yet

Entry to the Aichi Expo Memorial Park itself is free, but there will be admission fees for entering the Ghibli Park. For now, we can’t confirm the ticket price or the exact date of the opening of Valley of Witches and Mononoke Village — two out of the five areas in Ghibli Park.

You can stay updated by checking on the official website of Ghibli Park or the official Twitter account of Studio Ghibli. While waiting for the Ghibli Park to open in November 2022, why not try visiting Ghibli Museum in Mitaka Tokyo?

What To Expect In Ghibli Park

Rather than being plot-driven, Ghibli movies rely on vibrant, pastel-colored aesthetics. They bring up themes of friendship, strong heroines and nature, oftentimes featuring coming-of-age characters. Ponyo, Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service are to name a few.

Likewise, don’t go expecting Howl’s Tower of Terror or adrenaline-pumping Mononoke-inspired wolf ride. Rather than focusing on high-octane attractions, the studio encourages visitors to “take a stroll, feel the wind, and discover the wonders.”.

The site is close to surrounding acres of forests, so view it as a time to unwind and be a part of your favorite Ghibli movie. It nudges to Miyazaki’s vision: to let us see the beauty of the mundane and romanticize the little things in life.

Five Zone of Ghibli Park

The Ghibli Park will be divided into five zones. Some incorporate specific architectures and elements of one film, while others draw inspiration from multiple Ghibli-based films.

Ghibli Park
Image © Studio Ghibli

Three of them will be available on the opening day: Springtime of Life Hill, Ghibli Warehouse and Dondoko Forest.

The remaining two areas, Mononoke Village and Valley of Witches, are expected to open in 2023 or by end of March 2024. However, the exact opening period of these two zones has not been officially announced.

Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse

Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse is a facility that was formerly a public swimming pool. After it closed down in 2018, the place is transformed into Ghibli Park’s only indoor zone. The Ghibli Grand Warehouse is shielded and therefore accessible any time of the year regardless of the weather.

Studio Ghibli Park Ghibli's Large Warehouse
Image © Studio Ghibli

The place is an eclectic and vibrant mix of Ghibli movies. For example, there will be an area resembling Arrietty that lets visitors step into the world of the tiny protagonist — from disproportionately large wild grasses of the garden to the Borrowers’ family home.

Image © Studio Ghibli

Inside, the lively architecture is drawn from Japanese and Western-style buildings. The area includes a children’s playground that is based on My Neighbor Totoro, complete with a giant Cheshire-like Cat Bus.

You can also stroll the shops and restaurants before settling down in an exhibition room that houses a small cinema with 170 seats.

The exhibition will allow you to go through the 35 years of history of Studio Ghibli and find unreleased photos of the animations.

Studio Ghibli Park Ghibli's Large Warehouse
Image © Studio Ghibli

The zone will store artifacts and exhibits from multiple studio films, including the Robot Soldier from Castle in the Sky. You can also find a recreation of the movie’s iconic sky garden and a 6-meter hanging replica of the airship.

Goro Miyazaki, the son of Hayao Miyazaki and director of the Ghibli Park, reveals that the mystical red tunnel from Spirited Away is also in the making.

Hill of Youth (or Springtime of Life Hill)

Hill of Youth Ghibli Park
Image © Studio Ghibli

Hill of Youth encapsulates Miyazaki’s and Studio Ghibli’s penchant for magical realism and steampunk — something you can see in Howl’s Moving Castle.

The Hill of Youth, which sits close to the north entrance of the park, boasts a giant yellow observation tower that doubles as the main gate. A giant steampunk elevator allows guests to soak the whole breathtaking scenery.

Hill of Youth Ghibli Park
Image © Studio Ghibli

Inspired from Whisper of the Heart, the studio also erects a red building containing 19th century-inspired accents. The building looks exactly like the antique shop.

They have also announced that they are going to make the exact version of the Cat Bureau from The Cats Returns.

Dondoko Forest

In My Neighbor Totoro, Satsuki and Mei performed a dance with Totoro to sprout a planted seed. The dance is called ‘Dondoko Dance’. Inspired by this, the area will feature Mei and Satsuki’s house from the movie.

Dondoka Forest Ghibli Park
Image © Studio Ghibli

The entire zone carries the nuance of the Showa period (1926-1989), heavy with luscious greeneries. You can expect walking tours and paths in the area, tailored to the topography of the landscape.

Mononoke Village

Mononoke's Village Studio Ghibli Park
Image © Studio Ghibli

Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke is a literal warrior-princess. It stands with a reason that Studio Ghibli dedicates an area for her and the movie. Mononoke Village brings you along her adventure among large forest animal gods.

Mononoke's Village Studio Ghibli Park
Image © Studio Ghibli

There is a replica of the Irontown, or Tatara-ba, that takes you back to the Muromachi Period. You’ll find giant sculptures of the movie’s spirits and creatures, like the boar god Lord Okkoto, massive spider and the spirit monster Tatarigami.

Valley of Witches

Valley of Witches represents Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle, where both are heavy in magic. The studio teases a European-style townscape and magical amusement facility. The area houses a small amusement park, parks and rest areas. There’s Kiki’s family home and a bakery where she works.

Image © Studio Ghibli

The centerpiece of the zone is, however, a massive, real-life version of Howl’s Moving Castle that proudly stands at 16 meters. The castle won’t be dragging its body around the valley (like in the movies), but you might notice moving cannons that resemble its eyeballs.

All image courtesy of © Studio Ghibli

Want to explore the full breadth of Japan? Check out our articles:

Where is the Ghibli Park?

Ghibli’s park will be located in Aichi Commemorative Park (also known as Moricoro Park) in Nagakute City near Nagoya. It’s less than two hours away from Kyoto by train and three hours from Tokyo.

When will Ghibli Park open?

The Ghibli Park opens on November 1, 2022. Three out of the five theme zones are available for visitors. The studio has not confirmed the exact opening date for the other two areas.

How much is the ticket for Ghibli Park?

Entry to the Aichi Expo Memorial Park itself is free, but there will be admission fees for entering the Ghibli Park. The fee has not been announced.

What are the rides and attractions on Ghibli Park?

The Ghibli Park has no attraction or rides like Disneyland. Rather, the theme park wants you to “take a stroll, feel the wind, and discover the wonders.”

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