The Aichi prefectural government confirmed on Wednesday that the Dondoko Mori Area, the previously announced area featuring My Neighbor Totoro for the planned Ghibli Park, is under construction. The announcement unveiled a new visual for the area, and also revealed that the Ghibli Park will contain a 6.3-meter (about 21-foot) long recreation of the airship in Castle in the Sky. A replica of the witch’s home in Earwig and the Witch will appear in the Majo no Tani Area, along with a 956-square-meter (10,290-square-foot) brick-laid restaurant in an image of a storehouse on the park’s lakeshore.
The Ghibli no Daisōko (Giant Ghibli Warehouse), Seishun no Oka (Hill of Youth), and Dondoko Mori (Dondoko Forest) areas of the Ghibli theme park are slated to open in fall 2022, followed by the Mononoke no Sato Area (Mononoke Village, inspired by Princess Mononoke) and Majo no Tani Area (Witch Valley, inspired by Kiki’s Delivery Service) about one year later. The Dondoko Mori Area will feature a recreation of the shrine and path from My Neighbor Totoro.
Construction contractor Kajima Corporation began construction of the first three areas of the park in July 2020.
The staff projects that 1 million people annually will visit the first three areas to open, and then 1.8 million people annually will visit once the park is fully open a year later. To accommodate the flow of visitors, the surrounding area and roads are adding 1,500 more parking spaces and measures to control traffic.
Work on the designs began in 2019, and construction will last for about two or three years. Aichi prefecture has budgeted 31 billion yen (about US$280 million) for construction, in addition to 3 billion yen (about US$30 million) for the design and planning process.
Aichi prefecture agreed in May 2017 to establish the park. The project’s planners then revealed the basic design plans in April 2018. The park was initially planned to open in 2020. Studio Ghibli and the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper jointly established the Ghibli Park, Inc. company that will be responsible for the management and operation of the park.
Aichi prefecture and Studio Ghibli are collaborating to open the park in a 200-hectare area in Nagakute, Aichi’s Expo Park, also known as Moricoro Park, the site of the 2005 World’s Fair. The park already has “Satsuki and Mei’s House,” a replica of main characters’ house from the My Neighbor Totoro anime film. The house was the site of a Studio Ghibli exhibition in both 2008 and 2015.
The prefecture is aiming to make the park an attraction for both foreign and domestic tourists. Both Studio Ghibli and the prefecture are funding the operating company that will be in charge of the park.
While the park is being developed, the construction will not cause damage to the park through felling trees or other methods.
Studio Ghibli also maintains The Ghibli Museum, located in Mitaka in west Tokyo. The Ghibli Museum has interactive exhibits and replicas of iconic Ghibli creations, and it offers a rotating screening of different Ghibli-animated shorts. The museum was closed since February 25 due to concerns related to COVID-19, but has since reopened this week.