Visit Totoro Forest in Tokorozawa’s Sayama Hills

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Live out your summer adventure in the magical forest of western Saitama Prefecture which was said to be the inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki’s world renowned animated fantasy movie, “My Neighbor Totoro.”


The Studio Ghibli film was first released more than three decades ago and it still finds its way in the hearts of thousands of people around the world with King Totoro, becoming one of the most iconic and beloved character in the international scene. Before we proceed any further, spoiler alert for all those who have not yet seen this animated masterpiece. Read no further if you prefer to go into the story with a free mind and a curious heart and skip to the last paragraph of this article. The movie follows the story of two young sisters Satsuki and Mei who, together with their father Tatsuo Kusakabe, moved into an old house to be closer to the hospital where their mother Yasuko is admitted due to a long-term sickness. In their adventures, they meet with a number of different woodland spirits in the setting of a postwar rural Japan, the most notable of which is a gigantic magical creature that they name as Totoro. Mei finds and befriends Totoro after being led by two small magical creatures towards a large camphor tree. Mei falls asleep on top of the spirit and wakes up later in a dense briar clearing. Mei wanted to show her family the camphor tree where Totoro lived in but she could no longer locate Totoro’s tree. In comforting Mei, her father says that Totoro must be the keeper of the forest and would reveal himself on his own time. Apart from Totoro are also other extraordinary creatures such as the Catbus which could run, fly, bounce, and hop conveniently towards the destination of its passengers.


Apart from the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, the Tokorozawa is a very good alternative should you wish to visit Totoro forest located within Sayama Hills. Miyazaki himself was among the first who donated funds to preserve the area.


Some distance away from the forest is the Kurosuke House which is over 100 years old, named after the wandering soot spirits in the animated film which occupy houses that have been left uninhabited for a long period of time. Waiting for you in the house is Totoro himself – the keeper of the forest. According to one writer, the house is free for visitors but donations are always welcome.


Near the house is Wad-en, a Totoro-themed green tea café where you can take sips of authentic Sayama green tea and maybe even learn how to prepare the drink yourself.



My Neighbor Totoro


Sip some tea with Totoro in this Saitama town overflowing with nature


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