Just north-west of Tokyo, in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, there’s a beautiful stretch of greenery known as Totoro’s Forest. Containing fields, hills and rice paddies, this is hallowed ground for any Ghibli fan. Not only is this the actual inspiration for the animated film My Neighbor Totoro, the land itself is so beloved by Studio Ghibli legend Hayao Miyazaki that he’s made a generous donation to protect the area from housing developments, participates in regular volunteer events and is said to take daily walks through the woods.
Now, for two days this spring, you too can take a stroll through Totoro’s magical forest, with a walking event organised by the Totoro no Furusato Foundation. Stopping at a number of scenic locations and covering a distance of 15 km each day, you never know who you might meet during this special event!
The walking tour has been organised to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Totoro no Furusato Foundation (the Homeland of Totoro Foundation), which works to preserve the area’s natural environment.
With Miyazaki’s help, they’ve done an impressive job of protecting the forest area, which contains 200 different species of birds, 1,400 types of ferns and seedlings, 19 mammals, 2,500 types of insects and even a number of salamanders. A stroll through the area, dubbed “the treasure chest of nature”, easily brings to life the themes of conservation and environmentalism that feature heavily in Miyazaki’s films.
The first day of the walking tour was held on 30 April and covered 14 points of interest in Totoro’s Forest. The next walking tour will be held from 9:00am on 6 May. In the case of rain, the date will be postponed to 13 June.
The 15-kilometre walk ends at the House of Kurosuke, a 100-year-old house purchased by the foundation and moved to this location. Here visitors can soak up the atmosphere and keep an eye out for Makkuro Kurosuke, the little black dust bunnies that lived in the main house in the Ghibli film.
Those wanting to join the special walking tour will need to send their name, address and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org and pay a 300-yen participation fee. The tour will be held in Japanese and lunch and drinks are not provided. If you’re unable to change your Golden Week plans to schedule a trip to the area, don’t fret! Kurosuke House and the Sayama Hills that make up the Totoro Forest area are open to the public throughout the year.
House of Kurosuke
Address: 3-1169-1 Mikajima, Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture 359-1164, Japan
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday 10:00am – 3:00pm