TOKYO (AFP) – 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.
The city of Tokorozawa outside Tokyo plans to buy the 3.5-hectare ‘Totoro Forest’ for JPY2.6 billion (USD19 million), with crowdfunding covering just a small portion of that, a city official told AFP.
“The area is one of the places that director (Hayao) Miyazaki developed ideas for Totoro after walking there,” the official said, adding that the plan aims to turn the forest into a nature reserve.
The 1988 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.
The forest that inspired his home is about 30 kilometres northwest of Tokyo and has some 7,000 oak trees.
Tokorozawa will ask crowdfunding participants to contribute JPY25,000 (USD185) and in return, they will receive prints of background artwork offered by Studio Ghibli.
An initial 1,000 sets will be available, targetting donors inside Japan, though additional rounds could be organised if there is interest, the official said.
While the campaign will only cover 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.