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One of the things that makes the anime classic My Neighbor Totoro so magical is the way the titular forest spirit appears out of nowhere. Time and time again in the film, he quietly makes his entrance, does something adorable and enchanting, then fades away into the forest. The understated beauty and child-like wonder of these moments is so powerful that you can’t help but wonder how much better the real world would be with more flashes of pure positive emotion.

That’s exactly what visitors to a suburban shopping center in Yokohama recently got.

Center Kita is a neighborhood slightly outside of Yokohama’s city center. Its proximity to downtown makes it a popular location for families where parents need to commute to work, but also have kids who would benefit from being outside the hustle and bustle of the busiest parts of town.

November 24 started like any other day at Center Kita’s Yotsubako shopping center. Salespeople were hard at work, as were the staff of the complex’s restaurants. The plaza outside was filled with mothers and children…

…And then, something special happened.

Early on in the video, we see a waitress tell her coworkers that she’ll be stepping out for a few moments.

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The young women steps out of the restaurant, assembling a flute as she walks towards the plaza. Along the way, she’s joined by three other musically-equipped restaurant workers.

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Once outside, the assembled group launches into a performance of Totoro’s opening theme, “Sanpo,” to the happy surprise of both the children and adults in earshot. Even a stern-looking man dressed in a security guard’s outfit stops to listen.

▼ Apparentlty Studio Ghibli designs people in real life now, too.

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The first verse ends, and the crowd applauds politely. But instead of heading back inside, the quartet is joined by even more performers, and together they start the song’s second verse.

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By this time, a sizeable crowd has gathered. As a matter of fact, the crowd is so big that it’s hiding a couple of talented singers who are in on the act, including the bearded man we saw previously.

▼ You don’t walk around every day with that facial hair if you don’t also have a sense of whimsy.

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But despite the obvious coordination that went into the flash mob’s performance, the best part of all is completely unscripted, as passersby who know the lyrics to the popular song join in one after another.

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After the song ends, it’s time to go back to work. And while everyone goes their separate ways at the video’s end, there’s something undeniably touching and deeply moving about the way they all, even if just for a few moments, come together.

Source, images: YouTube
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