Ghibli Park: Japan’s long-awaited attraction opens to visitors | Tech US News

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

Ghibli Park, which opened on November 1, brings some of the most beloved characters and scenes from the studio’s animations to life in Aichi Earth Expo Memorial Park, the former site of Expo 2005.

“In the last three years, we have been in a very difficult situation due to Covid-19, but there was great joy even in the middle… I feel that the opening of this exhibition at this time, when they are firmly facing and overcoming Covid 19, has a great meaning,” said Koji Hoshino, chairman and president of Studio Ghibli Co., during an event a few days before the park’s official opening.

Visitors can meet Yubaba, a powerful witch, and Kashira, ace

Visitors can find Yubaba, a powerful witch, and Kashira, the green “heads”, from the movie “Spirited Away” in the Grand Warehouse area of ​​Ghibli Park.

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

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

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

For those unfamiliar with Studio Ghibli’s works, “My Neighbor Totoro” is a 1988 animation about two young sisters, Satsuki and Mei, who befriend the whimsical creatures in their new country home while waiting for their mother to recover from a long – term illness.

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

First of all a park

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

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

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

“While I hope the park will open soon, I’m also worried about whether people will actually come to enjoy it,” director Goro Miyazaki, son of Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, said during a promotional event ahead of the park’s opening. opening

The new Ghibli Park brings some of the studio's most beautiful scenes to life.

The new Ghibli Park brings some of the studio’s most beautiful scenes to life.

As for the inspiration for the park, the director says it was designed with the neighborhood in mind.

“People think of it as a theme park, but I’ve always wanted it to be a park. I think parks are first and foremost for local people, so I want the people of Aichi to love them more than anyone else. even if people don’t can come right away, I would be delighted if you could take a look at the entrance and visit the exhibition.”

Five areas, including an indoor Ghibli City

Spanning about 17.5 hectares, Ghibli Park will eventually have five different areas. Currently three are open to visitors.

The Ghibli Grand Store is the main area of ​​the park.

At the Grand Warehouse, visitors can get "Spirit away" with No-Face on a replica train.

At the Grand Warehouse, visitors can get “Spirited Away” with No-Face on a replica train.

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

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

A cinema plays shorts that are exclusively available at the new park and the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo.

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

The second area open to visitors is Hill of Youth, where guests can find the antique shop from “Whisper of the Heart,” a romantic musical, and its spin-off movie, “The Cat Returns.”

It is also a viewpoint that offers a panoramic view of the park.

The Dondoko Forest area is home to "My neighbor Totoro" house as well as a wooden Totoro statue.

The Dondoko Forest area is home to the “My Neighbor Totoro” house as well as a wooden statue of Totoro.

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Dondoko Forest, the third region now open, is dedicated to “My Neighbor Totoro”. Features the animation house and a Totoro themed playground.

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

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

How to visit Ghibli Park

Ghibli Park's Castle in the Sky elevator tower.

Ghibli Park’s Castle in the Sky elevator tower.

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Ghibli Park is open from 10:00am to 5:00pm on weekdays (except major school holidays) and from 9:00am to 5:00pm on public holidays and weekends. It is closed on Tuesdays (unless Tuesday is a holiday).

There is no general admission to the park. Instead, tickets must be reserved in advance for each individual area, with costs ranging from JPY 1,000 or USD 6.70 (for Hill of Youth and Dondoko Forest) to JPY 2,500 or USD 16.90 (for Ghibli Department Store weekends and holidays).

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

CNN’s David G. Allan and Kathleen Benoza also contributed to the story.

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