Totoro, Kiki, and No Face are just some of the characters who’ve emerged from the moss-covered wall.

If you’ve watched any of the films from Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli, you’ll know just how integral the world of nature is to many of their plots and characters.

From the forest creatures in My Neighbour Totoro and Princess Mononoke to the floating world of Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Ghibli characters are often striving for peace between modern-day technology and Mother Nature, so if there’s one place you’d expect to see these animated characters in person, it’d be on a man-made structure in a woodland in Japan.

Twitter user @hana_inko was lucky enough to experience such an encounter, and it happened whilst driving along a road on a mountain pass in Saitama Prefecture. After driving past some familiar characters, @hana_inko did a double-take and stopped the car to snap some photos of what had appeared.

Along the roadside was a large image of the robot from Laputa: Castle in the Sky, complete with a flower and butterfly by his foot. Not far away, some characters from Spirited Away could be seen, with Radish Spirit Oshira-sama joined by fellow bathhouse lovers, the masked Kasuga-Sama, and No Face beside them.

Further down, some soot sprites could be seen scuttling across the wall, with a few acorns and a couple of small Totoro creatures on the side.

And then, a gorgeous image of Totoro from My Neighbour Totoro, grinning broadly beside the iconic bus stop sign from the film.

Joining the characters on the wall was the Shishigami “Forest Spirit” who protects the Cedar Forest in Princess Mononoke. At night, this deer god has the ability to transform into a giant humanoid called the Night-Walker, making us wonder if a night-time visit here might be extra special.

And last but definitely not least is this image of Kiki and her talking cat Jiji from the movie Kiki’s Delivery Service. Here it looks as if she’s using her broomstick to sweep up the leaves by the road.

According to @hana_inko’s tweet, the images were found along the mountain pass between the city of Chichibu and the village of Higashichichibu in Saitama Prefecture.

After the images were shared online, other Twitter users came out of the woodwork to share their own tales of the unusual art, with some saying the images of the mysterious creatures were first shared online by bike riders last year or the year before last.

▼ There’s a kodama forest spirit peering out from the moss as well.

The story was so intriguing it appeared on Japanese television, with reporters dubbing it the “Mystery Moss Art”, whilst saying the images look as if they’ve been carved out of the moss.

Whilst interviewing locals in an attempt to determine the identity of the artist, owners of a nearby udon restaurant said the Soot Sprites appeared about a month ago, with the male owner saying he occasionally sees the figure of someone dressed all in black drawing on the wall.

Given that Saitama is home to Totoro’s real-world forest, there’s already an air of mystery in the area that suggests anything is possible. Whether the images were born from the hand of a human or a mysterious wood sprite, they act as a timely reminder of the divide between the environment and humankind.

Appearing on a cement wall by a bitumen road that cuts through a forest, these Ghibli characters are forcing everyone to stop and take a look at the nature around them. If you do pay them a visit, just be sure to keep out of the way of traffic and be careful as you do it!

Source: Twitter/@hana_inko via Net Lab
Images: Twitter/@hana_inko (1, 2)

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