The happiest new place on earth is just months away from opening, with the Studio Ghibli theme park welcoming animation lovers as November 1 arrives. Long under construction, Ghibli Park has had animation enthusiasts waiting to roam its 200 hectares in Nagoya’s Aichi Prefecture, about three hours by train from Tokyo, since 2017. And wondering exactly how point it will be magic. long too.
The answer? Supremely enchanting; yes, getting away will be easy here. Ghibli dropped early previews, even though its recent Hayao Miyazaki-directed cat train trailer was anime-only (but still wonderful). Now, he’s just unveiled a treasure trove of new previews of the upcoming location.
The park will open in phases, but the premiere will have no shortage of highlights, including what has been dubbed Ghibli’s Great Warehouse, aka its main area. Think of it as a fair within the overall attraction, with a video exhibit hall, three special exhibit halls, and shops and cafes all in one space.
Many moviegoers’ first stop will be Orionza, a theater that will seat 170 people and screen ten Ghibli shorts – all of which have only been seen at the studio’s existing Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, a town on the western outskirts of Tokyo. The easy climax: the 13-minute sequel to My Neighbor Totorowhich is an absolute delight, no surprise.
Want to step into one of the Ghibli movies? The park also includes recreations of 13 famous scenes from the company’s cinematic catalog that you can enter, including becoming Taken away as if by magic‘s Chihiro while sitting next to Kaonashi on a mysterious train by the sea. Or, another exhibit focuses on Ghibli’s talent for drawing delicious food and is sure to make you hungry.
And, if you’re curious about how Ghibli’s works — such as posters, videos, music, and books — appear overseas, there’s an exhibit on that too.
Because you’ll be craving souvenirs, The Ghibli Outlet Store will be selling Ghibli goodies galore, including park-specific items. Expect two things: wanting to buy everything, so much that you wonder if it’s worth having another suitcase to take home; and lots of company as you browse and shop.
For a bite or a drink, the Great Warehouse cafe and milk stall will both take their cue The wind picks up. One will offer sandwiches and pizza, while the other will focus on sips to drink – and a candy made of red bean paste between two pieces of castella, as seen in the film.
Yes, it all looks very much like the glorious frames of the Japanese animation house in real life – as the aforementioned Studio Ghibli museum already does. Also to be discovered throughout the park: a life-size version of Howl’s Moving Castle, the antique store Whisper of the heartKiki’s house since Kiki’s Delivery Service and a village district that pays homage to Princess Mononoke.
The Aichi Prefectural Fairgrounds site already houses a replica of Satsuki and Mei’s house from My neighbor Totoroand Totoro still features prominently in the extended setup – with the site even being initially described as having a My Neighbor Totoro to concentrate.
Or, you can check nods to chat from Whisper of the heart and The cat returnsbuildings whose design elements are inspired by Laputa: castle in the skyand an oversized garden that will make you feel like one of the little characters in Arrietty.
Expect more nods to Ghibli’s various features to follow, recreating other aspects of his three-decade-old work (and perhaps his most recent film, Earwig and the Witch).
The animation house has also released a new short video with additional glimpses of the park, as there aren’t too many glimpses of something so fascinating.
— スタジオジブリ STUDIO GHIBLI (@JP_GHIBLI) September 15, 2022
If you’re planning a Ghibli-centric vacation now, Japan changed its border rules in September to allow foreign tourists to enter the country without booking guided tours. As of this writing, you should always travel as part of a travel package, through a travel agency, even if that only covers your flights and accommodation. I’m crossing my fingers that this will change soon.
Park Ghibli will open on November 1, 2022. For more information, visit the venue’s website.
Pictures: ©Studio Ghibli.