The Japanese animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli is revered for depicting real-life things in great detail. But a house in Nagakute, Japan, has successfully depicted one of their animations in great detail in real life.
The house was built as part of the 2005 World’s Fair. The theme of the 185-day event was “Nature’s Wisdom.” Hosted by Japan, the fair saw international pavilions focused on ecology, renewable technology, and natural wonders.
A crowd favorite celebrated Hayao Miyazaki’s beloved movie My Neighbor Totoro with a full-scale replica of the 1950s house from the 1988 anime about a university professor and his daughters, Satsuki and Mei. The film follows Mei as she discovers the keeper of the forest, Totoro.
The weathered house in Aichi Commemorative Park was designed by Miyazaki’s son Goro, who also makes films. Due to copyright issues, Totoro never actually appears in the park (though the expo’s mascots bear a resemblance). Though the World’s Fair ended in September, the home was re-opened to the public in July of 2006.
The house now forms the basis of the Dondoko Forest section of Ghibli Park, a multi-area theme park with no big attractions or rides, but plenty to please fams of Studio Ghibli’s films.
Visitors are able to freely explore the space. They’re encouraged to look inside closets, drawers, and chests, just as Satsuki and Mei did upon arriving at the animated house. Unfortunately there are rules against photography, but the house is considered a compulsory pilgrimage site by Miyazaki’s devoted fans.
Know Before You Go
The house is a 20 minute walk from the nearest station.