Hayao Miyazaki’s many fans worldwide just got an unexpected gift.
Studio Ghibli, the animation firm co-founded by the beloved anime director, plans to build a theme park dedicated to one of his most famous creations: My Neighbor Totoro. Hideaki Omura — governor of Japan’s Aichi Prefecture, where the park is scheduled to open in 2020 — announced the plan at a news conference Thursday.
“Studio Ghibli’s films have love toward living creatures and Earth, which fits the concept of the expo,” he said according to The Japan Times. “I would like to pass down this idea to future generations.”
Tentatively named Ghibli Park, the space will span some 500 acres in Aichi’s Expo Park, which hosted the World’s Fair in 2005 and already boasts a life-size replica of the house featured in the film. The park will recreate the rest of the world from the film and focus on its theme of “respecting and embracing nature,” as Omura said Thursday.
Totoro, the magical keeper of the forest, befriends two young sisters in the film, comforting them during their mother’s illness and introducing them to the wonders of the natural world.
Beyond the bounds of the 1988 film, though, Totoro has become something more: a longtime totem for Miyazaki’s studio, a popular plush toy in toy stores the world over — and soon, the marquee star at a theme park built in its honor.
No word yet on whether a flying Catbus shuttle will be included in ticket fare.