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Studio Ghibli's Long-Awaited Theme Park Is Officially Set to Start Spiriting Fans Away in November

Located in Nagoya, the certain-to-be-magical 200-hectare spot now has a trailer, too.
By Sarah Ward
February 01, 2022
By Sarah Ward
February 01, 2022

By the time that 2022 is out, lovers of Studio Ghibli's films (aka everyone) will have two places to visit if they'd like to get as close as humanly possible to walking into the animation house's gorgeous frames. Already, you can head to the Studio Ghibli museum in Mitaka, a city on the western outskirts Tokyo — and you really should; it's as magical as it sounds, giant catbus and all — but now Ghibli's very own theme park has officially set a November launch date.

Come November 1, the new location in Nagoya's Aichi Prefecture — which is around a three-hour train trip from Tokyo — will start spiriting away Ghibli fans across its 200-hectare expanse. The studio initially announced that it was creating its own theme park back in 2017, and originally planned to open in 2020. Then, in 2018, it pushed back its launch timeline to 2022; however, this is the first time it's set a specific date that everyone can mark in the calendars.

The Aichi Prefecture Expo Park spot is already home to a replica of Satsuki and Mei's house from My Neighbour Totoro, and it's gaining plenty of other attractions as it becomes a fully fledged Studio Ghibli thee park. Totoro features heavily, understandably, with the site even initially described as having a My Neighbour Totoro focus. However, you'll also be able to check out a life-sized version of Howl's Moving Castlethe antique shop from Whisper of the Heart, Kiki's home from Kiki's Delivery Service and a village area that pays tribute to Princess Mononoke.

Also slated to feature: nods to the cat from Whisper of the Heart and The Cat Returns, buildings with design elements that take their cues from Laputa: Castle in the Sky, and a super-sized garden that'll make you feel like you're one of the tiny characters in Arrietty. There'll also be a permanent exhibition room, a special exhibition room, a video exhibition room, a playground, and a shop and cafe, so you'll have plenty of places to explore, eat and browse.

Expect more nods to Ghibli's various features to follow, recreating other aspects from its three-decade-old body of work — and possibly its most recent movie, Earwig and the Witch, too. And if the end result is even half as wondrous as the studio's aforementioned museum, then fans are in for a treat. There, you can also climb up to the building's rooftop garden to see one of the robots from Laputa: Castle in the Sky, and watch exclusive shorts (including a sequel to My Neighbour Totoro) in a cute little cinema. Indeed, the museum is such a tourist attraction, you have to buy tickets over a month in advance — and experiencing the rush of folks in the merchandise-packed gift shop will make you feel like a susuwatari (Totoro's gorgeous little balls of floating soot).

Studio Ghibli

Incorporated into the existing parklands, the Studio Ghibli theme park will be heavy on greenery and the natural surroundings, which matches the environmental messaging that plays a prominent part in Ghibli's movies. The site will also encourage "enjoying walking", according to the draft concept outline, while aiming to offer "a one-of-a-kind park loved by more people". We don't think either will be difficult.

If you're now planning a Ghibli-centric holiday, you'll need to cross your fingers that Japan's border rules change before November to allow foreign nationals to enter the country — something that's currently suspended until at least the end of February 2021.

And if you won't stop dreaming about the Studio Ghibli theme park anyway, the Aichi Tourism Bureau has released a trailer — which is largely an ad for the surrounding area, but also features Satsuki and Mei's house prominently. Check it out below:

The Studio Ghibli theme park is slated to open on November 1, 2022. For more information, keep an eye on the animation company's website.

Published on February 01, 2022 by Sarah Ward
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