Japan’s long-awaited Ghibli Park is now open – Boston News, Weather, Sports

(CNN) — Studio Ghibli fans have yet another reason to travel to Japan. A new theme park dedicated to productions by the popular animation company has finally opened in Aichi Prefecture, less than an hour from Kyoto by train.

Park Ghibli, which opened November 1, brings some of the studio’s most beloved characters and scenes to life inside Aichi Earth Expo Memorial Park – the former grounds of Expo 2005.

“For the last three years we have been in a very difficult situation because of Covid-19, but there was great joy even in the midst of it… I feel that the opening of this exhibition at this time, so that we stand firm in confronting and overcoming Covid 19, carries heavy significance,” said Koji Hoshino, Chairman and President of Studio Ghibli Co., at an event days before the park officially opened.

Since construction began in 2020 (and news broke a few years earlier), little snippets of the park’s design had been shared.

Now that it’s open, fans of the Japanese animation studio’s works can seek out soot spirits from Satsuki and Mei from “My Neighbor Totoro” or sit quietly on a train next to No Face from “Spirited Away. “.

For those unfamiliar with the works of Studio Ghibli, “My Neighbor Totoro” is a 1988 animation about two young sisters, Satsuki and Mei, who befriend the whimsical creatures around their new country home while they wait. that their mother is recovering from a long-term illness.

“Spirited Away” is an Oscar-winning animation about a brave girl named Chihiro and her magical adventure to save her parents and friends.

A park above all

According to those involved in the development of Park Ghibli, this is not your typical theme park.

The park’s website even warns visitors that “there are no major attractions or rides in Park Ghibli.”

Instead, guests are encouraged to “walk around, feel the wind and discover the wonders”.

“While I hope the park will open soon, I’m also worried about whether people will really come and enjoy it,” director Goro Miyazaki, son of Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, said at an event. promotion before the opening of the park. opening.

As for the park’s inspiration, the director says it was designed with locals in mind.

“People think it’s a theme park, but I always wanted it to be a park. I think the parks are first and foremost for local people, so I want them to be loved by Aichi people more than anyone else. Even if people can’t come right away, I would be happy if they could take a look at the entrance and visit the exhibition.

Five areas including an inner Ghibli city

Covering approximately 17.5 acres, Park Ghibli will eventually have five different areas. Three are currently open to visitors.

The Great Ghibli Warehouse is the main area of ​​the park.

It’s a large indoor “city” filled with streets, exhibits, and famous scenes from Studio Ghibli movies, including the Robot Soldier from “Castle in the Sky” and a life-size Catbus from “Totoro.”

A cinema shows short films exclusively available in the new park and at the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo.

There are also children’s playrooms, retro streets, gift shops and two cafes.

The second area now open to visitors is Hill of Youth, where you can find the antique shop from ‘Whisper of the Heart’, a romantic musical, and its spin-off film ‘The Cat Returns’.

It is also a belvedere offering a panoramic view of the park.

Dondoko Forest, the third region now open, is dedicated to “My Neighbor Totoro”. It features the animation house and a Totoro-themed play area.

The two areas that have yet to open are Mononoke Village, which references “Princess Mononoke” and her adventures among the great animal gods of the forest, and Valley of Witches, which will include parts of “Howl’s Moving Castle. “, about a young milliner who accidentally gets caught. in a war, and “Kiki’s Delivery Service”, about a serious and hardworking young witch. (An artist’s rendering shows a teacup tower decorated with Kiki Jiji’s cat.)

According to Park Ghibli officials, Mononoke Village and Valley of the Witches will open in 2023.

How to visit Ghibli Park

Parc Ghibli is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays (excluding major school holidays) and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on public holidays and weekends. It is closed on Tuesdays (unless Tuesday is a public holiday).

There is no general admission ticket for the park. Instead, tickets must be pre-booked for each individual area, with costs ranging from 1,000 JPY, or $6.70 (for Hill of Youth and Dondoko Forest) to 2,500 JPY, or 16, $90 (for Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse on weekends and holidays).

Reservations cannot yet be made through the park’s official website. For now, visitors need to book tickets and select entry times for the different areas on this ticket booking site (in Japanese only).

Aichi Earth Expo Memorial Park is located east of Nagoya City, less than two hours from Tokyo or about 50 minutes from Osaka and Kyoto by train.

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