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Fans of animated classics like Grave of the Fireflies, Princess Mononoke and Kiki’s Delivery Service are in for a treat. Studio Ghibli, the production house beloved by movie-goers around the globe, has announced that it will be opening a theme park honouring the legacy of its most famous works. Originally slated for a 2020 launch, the company now plans to unveil the park by 2022. The location? The Aichi Commemorative Park in Nagakute, Nagoya, home of the 2005’s World Fair. What makes things more exciting, is news that Ghibli frontman and director Hayao Miyazaki is likely supervising its look.
Ever since the news made headlines, netizens have been speculating about the visual gems that could populate the park. But Studio Ghibli—whose 2D films evoke a deep sense of childlike wonder, nostalgia and enjoying the little things—has remained mostly tight-lipped. The Aichi Park already houses a life-sized recreation of Mei and Satsuki’s house from My Neighbour Totoro, and reports say that the new park could be up to 500 acres in size. One website says that that construction will avoid any deforestation, in keeping with Miyazaki’s profound respect for the natural world.
There will be no roller coasters or water slides. Instead, rides and buildings will likely be based on popular Ghibli works such as Totoro, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. Broadly, the park is supposed to have three zones. These are the ‘Ghibli Large Warehouse’, featuringindoor spaces with a play area for children, a theatre, cafes and shops; the vast ‘Dondoko Forest’ area, surrounding the pre-existing Totoro house and inspired by the ShÅÂÂwa era under emperor Hirohito; and the ‘Hill of Youth’ area, with 19th-century architectural elements.
Two other zones are expected to open by 2023. These are ‘Mononoke's Village’, with reproductions of the film’s forges and settlements, and a ‘Witches' Valley’ that will pay homage to both Howl’s nomadic home and Kiki’s Okino residence in one magical realm. The basic plans also project the park to have lush forest trails, European-style brick buildings (seen in many Ghibli films) and whimsical installations to evoke the mystical natural heritage seen in their filmverse.
Studio Ghibli already runs a hugely-successful art museum in Mitaka, west of Tokyo. The park—if it stays true to the vision of Miyazaki and his talented animators—is likely to become a titan in the world of film and anime tourism.
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