In Hayao Miyazaki's world, there are no ugly places. Watching Ghibli films like Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro as a kid usually makes you want to travel inside the frames. With glistening lakes and rustling grassy fields, it's hard not to be tempted to visit such places in real life. Be it the bathhouse from Spirited with its intricate architecture, both inside and out that mirrors the grandeur of the animated masterpiece, or the Kamikochi Imperial Hotel, located near the Japanese Alps from The Wind Rises, there are a plethora of gorgeous places that we all wish were real. The good news is that many Studio Ghibli films are inspired by real-life locations spread mostly across Japan. Here is a list of some places in Japan and outside that you can visit and be the main character of your anime movie
My Neighbour Totoro, Sayama Hills
Located in Sayama, Saitama Prefecture, just a short distance from Tokyo station is the enchanting Totoro Forest. This picturesque forest park, preserved by the Totoro no Furusato Foundation, is a haven of tranquillity and nostalgia. A must-visit attraction within the forest is Kurosuke's House, a charming traditional Japanese dwelling that dates back over 100 years. Step inside, and you'll be greeted by the sight of a majestic Totoro statue, evoking fond memories of the beloved animated film. Immerse yourself in the rich rural culture of Japan as you explore the intricately designed interior of the house. Don't forget to browse the delightful Totoro-themed souvenirs available, ensuring you can take a piece of the magic home with you.
Kiki's Delivery Service, Gotland, Sweden
The visuals in Kiki's Delivery Service, set in a fictional city nestled within the tapestry of Northern Europe, unveil a charming world where the essence of bakeries, city streets, and architectural wonders resonate with a distinctly European ambience, gracefully deviating from the familiar realm of Japanese cultural motifs. The genesis of this enchanting aesthetic took shape when writer-director Hayao Miyazaki embarked on a field trip alongside his team to the cities of Stockholm and Visby on the tranquil Swedish island of Gotland. This departure from the familiar is inherent in the source material itself, a captivating novel penned by the talented Eiko Kadono. The story invites audiences on an extraordinary journey, where the enchantment lies not only in Kiki's transformation but also in our own as spectators. The unfamiliarity becomes a vessel for discovery as we traverse the unknown landscapes with Kiki, unwrapping the layers of a foreign but undeniably captivating world.
Spirited Away, Dogo Onsen
In the realm of enchanting movie settings, few can rival the captivating allure of Spirited Away. Amidst its magical landscapes, one iconic location emerges from the depths of imagination the ethereal bathhouse. Inspired by the otherworldly splendour of Spirited Away, Dogo Onsen stands as a living testament to this fantastical realm. Just as the bathhouse in the film attracts a clientele of whimsical spirits and celestial beings, Dogo Onsen holds a special place in the hearts of the Japanese Imperial family, who frequent its serene waters.
Nestled in the charming town of Matsuyama, in the picturesque Ehime prefecture, Dogo Onsen holds a legacy that dates back to 1894, making it one of the oldest public bathhouses in all of Japan. Stepping into Dogo Onsen is akin to entering the realm of the film itself. A labyrinth of tatami hallways, staircases, and passageways awaits within its hallowed walls, reminiscent of the wondrous maze traversed by spirited protagonist Chihiro. In the timeless embrace of Dogo Onsen, where reality merges with fantasy, visitors are transported to a world where spirits roam, dreams flourish, and the boundaries between imagination and reality dissolve.
The Wind Rises, Kamikochi Imperial Hotel
Miyazaki's cinematic legacy, The Wind Rises, delves into the complexities of war, the pursuit of creativity, the fragility of life, the weight of loss, and the profound sacrifices made in the pursuit of fulfilment. Two pivotal scenes in the film unfold during its third act, set against the backdrop of Hotel Kusukaru&mdasha fictitious haven that draws inspiration from the storied Kamikochi Imperial Hotel near the majestic Japanese Alps. A mysterious stranger with haunting grey eyes emerges in one of the scenes, bearing a solemn warning&mdasha haunting reminder of the disastrous folly that awaits amidst the shadows of World War II and the impending destruction that looms over Japan. And then, in another, within the walls of Hotel Kusukaru, an aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi discovers a love that transcends the confines of time and space. Every detail of Hotel Kusukaru echoes the grandeur of its real-life muse. From its ornate façade to the meticulous interior design, Miyazaki's artistry captures the essence of the Kamikochi Imperial Hotel, which first graced the world in the transformative year of 1933. Within the walls of Hotel Kusukaru, the convergence of powerful themes and exquisitely crafted storytelling transcends the screen, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of viewers.
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