Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ inspired forest preservation campaign

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A Japanese city has launched a crowdfunding campaign to protect the forest that is inspired from Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro.

Miyazaki strolled around the 9-acre stretch of beautiful woodland, home to over 7,000 ancient oak trees, while dreaming up the scenario for his renowned and fan-favorite 1988 anime.

A local official told the Tokyo’s Japan Times newspaper, “The area is one of the places where director Miyazaki developed his ideas for Totoro after strolling there.”

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A city official informed that the city of Tokorozawa, just outside of Tokyo, planned on to purchase the 3.5-hectare “Totoro Forest” for 2.6 billion yen ($19 million), with crowdfunding paying only a small amount of the cost. The region, which is home to over 7,000 mature oak trees, would then be designated as a nature preserve for local people and visiting tourists.

My Neighbor Totoro is the story of two girls, Mei and Satsuki, who travel to the country to be closer to their ailing mother and enjoy adventures with the amazing forest spirits that reside nearby. Mei comes across two little spirits who bring her into the hollow of a huge camphor tree one day. She befriends a giant spirit, who identifies itself with a sequence of roars that she misidentifies as “Totoro.” Mei mispronounces Troll and believes Totoro is the Troll from her illustrated book Three Billy Goats Gruff.

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Participants who give 25,000 yen ($185) to the Tokorozawa city initiative will get prints of Ghibli’s Totoro backdrop artwork. Initially, just 1,000 sets will be available for contributors within Japan, but officials have stated that only if demand exceeds availability, more may be made accessible.

Officials expect the crowdfunding drive to finance only a tiny fraction of the property acquisition, but they hope it will create exposure and support for the planned nature preserve.