While the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka is a truly whimsical place, transporting you into the magical world of animator Hayao Miyazaki and friends, an adult may feel that their immersion is incomplete. In particular, the children-only play area that features a “life-size” cat bus practically begs you to step over the velvet rope and throw the makurokurosuke in the air like a kid on a sugar high, but to do so would likely result in your ejection from the building.

But fear not! There is one other place in Japan where even grown-ups can wander happily through the imaginary world of My Neighbor Totoro: The Teddy bear Museum in Tochigi Prefecture.


Enter Nasu Teddy Bear Museum. Located in the Nasu highlands of Tochigi Prefecture, this lovely little museum has many things to offer, and doesn’t require visitors to buy tickets weeks in advance like the Ghibli Museum.

As you enter through the first floor you are greeted by a giant moving and talking teddy bear who will speak to you in both Japanese and English. The museum’s collection of teddy bears is as varied as it is weird. From antique teddy bears and dressed-up teddy bears, to character-themed teddy bears like Indiana Jones and Catwoman, you will no doubt be wondering how and where they acquired such unique teddies. The star of their collection, however, is Teddy Edward, a bear based on the books by Patrick and Mollie Mathews about the travels of a teddy bear. Pictures and articles document his travels all over the world.

▼Welcome to the Nasu Teddy Bear Museum!



▼Raw fish is a bear’s favorite food


▼Most accurate rendition of four American presidents



▼You can purchase this collaboration between Yuka Kaede and Swavorski for just 630,00 yen (US$6,216).


▼Dun dun dun dun! Dun dun dun….


▼Nananananananana BATBEAR!!!


Teddy bears are cute and cuddly, but we all know why we came to this museum. From the bottom of the stairs to the second floor you can hear the telltale roar of Totoro calling you forward.

As you ascend to the second-floor landing you can see the giant head and paws of a Cat Bus sticking out of the wall. You might want to stop and have the Cat Bus pat you in the head but your attention will surely be drawn elsewhere. There are many displays documenting the world of My Neighbor Totoro but your eyes will instantly zip to the main attraction, a three-meter-tall Totoro begging to get its picture taken. The museum even kindly provides an umbrella to complete the shot!

As you make your way around, right before the gift shop is another Cat Bus. Admittedly, it’s not a recreation of the entire thing, but the front of the cat bus is open for all to enter and take a picture – kids and adults alike. Finally, you can imagine yourself being transported away from your dreary countryside home to the ancient forest that the Totoro call their home.

Makurokurosuke soot sprites are the only dust we want in our place.






▼Next stop: Nasu Town!


▼The cutest bears ever!!!



Nasu Town in Tochigi prefecture might be a little out-of-the-way for some visitors to Japan, but if one of your goals while visiting the country is to meet Totoro, this may be the only place to do it. It’s just a short bullet train ride north from Tokyo, so really easy to get to, and the area is covered with cafes, restaurants and shops, so makes a great day out, though it’s probably best if you hire a car while you’re there.

Oh, and you get extra points if you come dressed as Mei.


Spot info
Nasu Teddy Bear Museum (那須テディベア・ミュージアム)
Address: 1185-4 Takakuhei, Nasu-machi, Nasu-gun, Tochigi Prefecture 325-0302
Entrance Fee: 1080 yen for adults
Phone: 0287-76-1711
Opening Hours: 9:30am – 5:00pm (entry until 4:30pm)
(2nd Tuesday in February, March, June, December – closed)

Images © RocketNews24