Ghibli Park Opening Date Announced as Nov. 1st

Ghibli Park Opening Date Announced as Nov. 1st

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Ghibli Park opening date announcement
Since 2017, Ghibli fans the world over have anticipated the opening of the first-ever Ghibli theme park. Now, the opening date has finally been announced.

On November 1st, 2022, the long-awaited Ghibli Park will open in centrally-located Aichi Prefecture. The announcement of the theme park’s opening date came via a simple tweet posted by the official Studio Ghibli Twitter account. Ghibli producer/former president Suzuki Toshio also appeared with the governor of Aichi, Omura Hideaki, to formally announce the date. This comes following a two-year delay in the park’s opening resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tweet reads “The opening date of the ‘Ghibli Park’ has been announced.” Above Totoro, in the featured image, the text reads “Opening Nov. 1st.”

Ghibli Park: A First for the Globally Beloved Studio

Studio Ghibli, the globally beloved animation studio behind 21 classic films by the likes of Miyazaki Hayao and Takahata Isao, has never before had its own theme park; rather, the studio, fastidious as regards its artistic style and brand maintenance, previously focused its attention on the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo.

The famed museum, until the pandemic border closings a major local draw of international tourism, functions as a site of Ghibli pilgrimage, all while presenting the art form of animation through a variety of exhibits. Despite the frenzied business done in the museum’s gift shop, “MAMMA AIUTO!”, the beautifully maintained site manages to balance being a tourist draw with a rich sense of atmosphere. Although still designed to appeal to children, nothing about the Ghibli Museum panders. In this sense, the museum reflects the qualities that have made Studio Ghibli one of the most critically acclaimed film studios the world over.

Ghibli Museum entrance.
The entrance to the Ghibli Museum. Mitaka, Tokyo. Photograph by Noah Oskow.

So it came as some surprise when, in 2017, Ghibli revealed that it had been in talks with Aichi Prefecture regarding the development of a theme park. From a business standpoint, it makes sense – fans around the world have long dreamed of what Disney World-esque park would look like for Ghibli, focusing on worlds like the bathhouse from Spirited Away or the samurai-era ironworks of Princess Mononoke. Still, the question remained as to whether the same sort of artistic intent could be maintained in a mass tourist-oriented setting like a theme park. However, as the years have gone by, and more details and designs for the park have been revealed, excitement has overtaken most misgivings.

In the Heart of Aichi

Ghibli Park is located in Nagakute City, Aichi Prefecture, within the boundaries of the Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park. The grounds here have been maintained since 2005, when they played host to pavilions from 121 nations represented at the Expo. Among the attractions back in 2005 was “Satsuki and Mei’s House,” a meticulous recreation of the rambling countryside house featured in Ghibli’s 1988 film My Neighbor Totoro. The house, half western-style, half Japanese-style, is stocked with household items dating to the film’s 1950s setting. After the Expo ran its course, Satsuki and Mei’s House reopened to the public the following year. It’s now serving as a preexisting fixture of the new Ghibli Park, and the center of Dondoko Forest: one of the park’s five worlds.

Satsuki and Mei's House, which will be featured at Ghibli Park.
Satsuki and Mei’s House, on the Expo grounds. Photograph by Noah Oskow.

The other four begin with the HIll of Youth; this is the orientation area, patterned off of the hilly Tokyo district featured in Kondo Yoshifumi’s Whisper of the Heart (1995). It will also be home to the Cat Bureau from Whisper‘s quasi-sequel The Cat Returns (2002). You’ll also be able to journey to Mononoke’s Village; this is indeed a recreation of the setting of Princess Mononoke. The “village” will feature the Tatara-ba ironworks town, as well as rural Muromachi era (1336-1573)-style landscapes.

Meanwhile, the Valley of Witches will combine aspects of Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) and Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989); you’ll be able to visit the young witch Kiki’s family home, buy bread at her bakery, and enter a giant recreation of the titular Howl’s moving castle. There will even be a full-size replica of the house from Ghibli’s newest film, the CG-animate Earwig and the Witch (2020). Last comes Ghibli’s Large Warehouse. This is an indoor area, built upon the former grounds of the shuttered swimming pool. will feature numerous shops, restaurants, exhibition spaces, a theater, and more.

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(One wonders if this theater will play the famed Ghibli Museum shorts. These theatrical-quality short films are currently only available on monthly rotation in the Ghibli Museum.)

A Grand Opening, but Borders Remain Closed

The Nov. 1st grand opening will in fact only be inclusive of three of the five areas. HIll of Youth, Dondoko Forest, and Ghibli’s Large Warehouse will be the first to open to the public. Over the ensuing year, the remaining two areas will also come into operation. The park anticipates hosting many more guests than the popular Ghibli Museum, where tickets must be booked a month in advance via Lawson convenience store terminals and sell out quickly. Indeed, the Large Warehouse area by itself will be four times the size of the current Ghibli Museum.

The Ghibli Park is basing its business model on attracting guests from overseas, in addition to the many domestic guests it will doubtless welcome. However, with borders still closed, and no end to the pandemic in sight, it will remain to be seen when foreign guests will be able to enjoy the new theme park. We can only hope it will be soon. Ghibli, steeped in Japanese culture as it is, now represents a truly global brand. November is far enough that, by then, everything could be different – but so we thought two years ago. The opening of this park will hopefully be something people all around the world can look forward to.

Main source:

(2022年1月27日.)「ジブリパーク」開業、11月1日に決定 名作の世界、じっくり体感。 中日新聞。

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Noah Oskow

Serving as current UJ Editor-in-Chief, Noah Oskow is a professional Japanese translator and interpreter who holds a BA in East Asian Languages and Cultures. He has lived, studied, and worked in Japan for nearly seven years, including two years studying at Sophia University in Tokyo and four years teaching English on the JET Program in rural Fukushima Prefecture. His experiences with language learning and historical and cultural studies as well as his extensive experience in world travel have led to appearances at speaking events, popular podcasts, and in the mass media. Noah most recently completed his Master's Degree in Global Studies at the University of Vienna in Austria.

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