Address: 5-6 Dōgo Yunomachi, Matsuyama, Ehime
Studio Ghibli has consistently prevailed as a premier animation house for over 30 years. The powerful storylines and meticulous details crafted by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki builds an entire world of its own - on par with Disney's prominence. These enchanting settings, however, are not just mere fantasies! Devoted fans of Ghibli are able to visit real life sites that served as major inspirations for the movies.
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The Oscar-winning animation, 'Spirited Away' was recently regarded as the second 'most-watched' movie in the 21st century according to the New York Times. The mystical setting that was stumbled upon by Chihiro and her family down the 'rabbit hole' was said to be inspired by a town in Taiwan called Jiufen. Nestled up in the northeast mountains outside Taipei, this town was historically a former mining town which now attracts visitors for its quaint streets and traditional buildings. The beautiful A-Mei Teahouse, narrow alleys and shops around Jiufen picturesquely mimics the animated classic.
Another setting that served as a significant inspiration for Spirited Away is the iconic Dogo Onsen in Hyogo. Situated in one of the oldest onsen towns in Japan, Miyazaki was awestruck by the bathhouse complex that is rich in both nature and tradition. The bathhouse was definitely a key setting in the movie's plot, but instead of entering the dungeon of Yubaba, visitors here can relax away inside the serene onsens without the threat of an evil witch!
Address: 5-6 Dōgo Yunomachi, Matsuyama, Ehime
Stepping into the grounds of Paronella Park feels like being magically transported to the universe in 'Castle in the Sky'. The steampunk fantasy-adventure animation film recreates this botanical monument that was built by José Paronella, a Spanish immigrant that initially planned on seeking refuge inside the castle in 13 acres of unexplored forest along the Mena Creek.
Address: 1671 Innisfail Japoon Rd, Mena Creek QLD 4871, Australia
Unlike the other preexisting venues that developed into animated landscapes in Miyazaki movies, this venue is a life-sized adaptation of 'Satsuki and Mei's House' from the famous 'My Neighbor Totoro'. This house was constructed in accordance of the 2005 World Expo that took place in Nagoya. Fans of the fluffy creature will not be disappointed since the house has completely replicated the animation, comprising every single valuable detail including the water bucket with a hole at the bottom. However visitors need to book tickets in advance to visit Totoro's neighborhood.
Address: Yazako, Nagakute, Aichi 480-1103
Although Miyazaki's work is mostly centered around rich Japanese values, his first travel experience to Sweden gave him a profound impression that drew inspiration for the city in 'Kiki's Delivery Service'. Gamla Stan is a UNESCO Heritage Site that is among one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe. The animation tactfully recreates the color palette and architectural details that are reminiscent of the charming corners in this city.
Fans can enter the magical realm of 'Princess Monoke' in this incredibly similar ancient forest. Yakushima Forest on an island in Kagoshima is famously dubbed as the mystical forest for its charms that are beyond imaginable. This forest is home to some of the oldest living trees in the country, averaging around 1000 to even 7000 years old - hence why some areas are protected and declared as a Natural World Heritage Site in 1993.
Among the scattered remnants of the glorious Studio Ghibli, devotees are lucky to have a starting point for their Ghibli pilgrimage in none other than the Ghibli Museum. Last on our list, this museum exhibits the magical world of Ghibli through their collection of treasures from Hayao Miyazaki's original sketches to life-sized robot installations from 'Castle in the Sky'. But not only that, fans are also in for a bigger treat soon. The studio announced the construction of a Studio Ghibli Theme Park, set to open its doors in 2022. Though details are still kept under tight wrap, the park's plan entails rides, attractions, forest trails and other natural sites. With mounting anticipation for the opening, fans can book tickets for the equally entertaining museum in the meantime.
Address: 1 Chome-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-0013
Wait there's more! Ghibli fans are in for sweeter treats delightfully baked from this tiny shop in Shimokitazawa. The 'Shirohige Cream Puff Factory' is responsible for these cute Totoro Cream Puffs that you may have seen floating around social media. If you are willing to join the cream puff craze, make sure to get there early and wait in line to get your hands on fresh Ghibli inspired treats.
Address: 5 Chome-3-1 Daita, Setagaya City, Tokyo 155-0033
The creative Studio Ghibli factory has been producing some of the best animation films in mankind, drawing inspiration settings from various incredible corners of the globe. Fans are able to enter the fantasy realms from the critically acclaimed movies from Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky, Kiki's Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro to Princess Mononoke - re-imagining scenes as if they were the animated characters themselves.