Japan crowdfunds for forest that inspired Totoro film

TOKYO • A Japanese city is launching a crowdfunding campaign to help preserve a special spot of woodland: the forest that inspired the animator of beloved movie My Neighbour Totoro (1988).

The city of Tokorozawa outside Tokyo plans to buy the 3.5ha "Totoro Forest" for 2.6 billion yen (S$26 million), with crowdfunding covering just a small portion of that, a city official told Agence France-Presse.

"The area is one of the places that (inspired) director Hayao Miyazaki (to develop) ideas for Totoro after walking there," said the official, adding that the plan aims to turn the forest into a nature reserve.

The animation film from Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli features the cuddly but mysterious forest spirit character Totoro, who has become an instantly recognisable figure for fans around the world.

Tokorozawa will ask crowdfunding participants to contribute 25,000 yen and, in return, they will receive prints of background artwork offered by Studio Ghibli.

An initial 1,000 sets will be available, targeting donors inside Japan. Additional rounds could be organised if there is interest, said the official.

While the campaign will cover only a small portion of the cost of buying the land, the city is hoping it will bring attention to the forest and build support for its preservation.

Miyazaki, 81, who co-founded Studio Ghibli with late director Isao Takahata, is known for a string of animated hits, including Spirited Away (2001) and Howl's Moving Castle (2004). Totoro is one of his studio's most beloved characters.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2022, with the headline Japan crowdfunds for forest that inspired Totoro film. Subscribe