Mayor Masato Fujimoto of Tokorozawa city in Saitama Prefecture announced on June 2 that the city will preserve the forest of Kaminoyama, which inspired director Hayao Miyazaki to create My Neighbor Totoro movie, as an “urban green park”.
Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki have opened a crowdfunding campaign to cover a part of the expenses in addition to government funds.
The forest of Kaminoyama is a 3.5-hectare green space bordering Kita Akitsu in Tokyo Prefecture and Kamiyasumatsu in Saitama Prefecture is called, with over 7,000 trees.
During a walk-through of the neighbourhood with Hayao Miyazaki in January 2018, Mayor Fujimoto noted that the director explained that the idea of Totoro was born in that area and that “this scenery is the reason I live here”. Alongside his Mitaka City studio, Miyazaki has a private apartment in the region.
The present landowners have agreed to sell their property to the city for 2.6 billion yen (approximately $20 million).
Tokorozawa will contribute around 1.8 billion yen (US$13.4 million) to Kaminoyama, while Miyazaki will contribute around 300 million yen (US$2.23 million) in addition to assisting residents in collecting donations and negotiating land use.
Ghibli will provide five pieces of background artwork including an illustration of Matsugo countryside that was used in My Neighbor Totoro that will be utilized for framed replica paintings, with sets of five B4-size (25.7 x 36.4-centimeter [10.1 x 14.3-inch]) paintings available for pledges of 25,000 yen from both Tokorozawa residents and those living outside the city.
The city plans to start selling 1,000 sets in September after signing an agreement with Studio Ghibli. More sets can be added depending on the demand.
The project site is part of a private land readjustment project (27.2 hectares) about 1 km southeast of Tokorozawa Station on the Seibu Line started in 2020.