The grand opening is scheduled for late May.

For Studio Ghibli fans around the world, a visit to the Ghibli Museum in Japan is a dream destination. Now, though, there’s a new spot vying for everyone’s attention, and surprisingly, it’s not in the animation studio’s home country of Japan – it’s in Thailand instead.

Called May’s Garden House Restaurant, the new establishment is the first Totoro-themed restaurant officially licensed by Studio Ghibli. While the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo’s Mitaka district is home to the Straw Hat Cafe, where diners can enjoy a changing menu of items inspired by a number of Ghibli films, an official restaurant dedicated solely to the star of My Neighbour Totoro has never existed…until now.

See you tomorrow! 😍

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Located in Sukhumvit, Bangkok, May’s Garden House Restaurant has been inviting guests to dine with them during their pre-opening period, which began on 16 April. With guests providing feedback on the menu and the facilities, the restaurant’s grand opening is scheduled for the end of May, by which time some of their yet-to-be-unveiled areas, like the Children’s Playground, the Orchid Glasshouse, the Boat Water Pool, the Library and two Halls are scheduled to be completed.

▼ While adults will love the new restaurant, many of the areas inside have been designed with children in mind.

👦👧

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A first look at the interiors show there are a lot of Totoro surprises in store for visitors.

Have a good dream 😴

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▼ Meals will be served in a bright and spacious dining room, with a giant Totoro to keep everyone company.

While the menu is yet to be finalised, some of the offerings provided to guests during the pre-opening period look to be pretty delicious.

▼ Totoro’s Forest in Thailand is filled with Isaan food!

Have you ever tried Isaan food in the Totoro's land? 😊

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As well as Thai soups and curries, there are other more meaty dishes on the menu, like chicken wings.

The significance of the chicken wings on the menu harks back to the intriguing story that led to the actual creation of the restaurant. According to a discussion by Ghibli producer and co-founder Toshio Suzuki on Tokyo FM Radio, the idea for the restaurant came about after one of his visits to Thailand, where he met up with an acquaintance who was a single mother working to provide for her young children and extended family in the rural Pak Thong Chai Village.

The half-Thai, half-Japanese woman called Kanyada owned a humble stall that served up delicious chicken wings, which Suzuki immediately fell in love with. However, on a recent trip back to the restaurant, the owner told him she would have to shut the restaurant, as there weren’t enough customers visiting the rural town to keep her in business.

▼ Suzuki says Pak Thong Chai Village in Nakhon Ratchasima Province brought back memories of the Japanese countryside from his childhood, and also conjured up images of Totoro’s Forest.

Coincidentally, Kanyada’s nickname was May, similar to the main character of Mei in My Neighbour Totoro, which gave Suzuki the idea for the new restaurant. Touched by her plight, he called it “May’s Garden House Restaurant”, and designed it so that the flavours and atmosphere of May’s rural town could be brought to the city of Bangkok, where diners could conjure up images of the countryside while chowing down on those tasty chicken wings.

▼ Suzuki was the driving force behind the opening of the new restaurant in Thailand.

Studio Ghibli's Mr.Toshio Suzuki and our big boss 😊

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Suzuki’s love for Kanyada’s chicken wings may have also been the inspiration behind Colko and Peeko, two characters that he designed exclusively for May’s Restaurant.

These original mascots also bear a resemblance to the Siamese Fireback, the national bird of Thailand.

Aside from the cute merchandise, there’ll also be some adorable meals to choose from, with Italian owner-chef Federico Colpi, a colleague of Suzuki’s from the anime industry, overseeing the development of the menu.

Fluffy Mini Totoro Steamed Buns In Caramel Sauce.

Neko Bus Has Come To Town

May’s Hat

A Gift From Totoro

Totoro in the Rain

Sleeping Totoro

And while you feast on Totoro, the characters from the film will be there to greet you at every turn, including a giant Totoro that everyone is bound to fall in love with.

Suzuki also designed the sign for the restaurant, playing up the Totoro theme with an image of the Cat Bus from the movie.

So whether you’re able to make it over to Thailand or not, you can expect your Instagram feed to soon be inundated with cute images of Totoro and friends from May’s Garden House Restaurant. Here are the details below so you can get in on the action too!

Restaurant Information
May’s Garden House Restaurant
Address: 18 Soi Lak Khet (Sukhumvit Soi 29), Khlong Toei Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok, Thailand
Hours: 12:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m.

Source: Facebook/May’s Garden House Restaurant via Ghibli no Sekai
Featured image: Instagram/May’s Garden House Restaurant