Monument also to be erected in the shape of Totoro.

One of the things we love about Japanese train stations is their unusual departure melodies, which cover everything from the Star Wars theme tune right through to AKB48’s smash hit song from 2013, “Koi Suru Fortune Cookie”.

Now, it’s just been announced that another train station will be playing two widely recognisable tunes in the very near future, this time featuring the theme songs from Studio Ghibli’s 1988 anime film My Neighbour Totoro.

▼ The melodies will be played as trains depart from Seibu Railway’s Tokorozawa Station in Tokorozawa City, Saitama Prefecture.

Tokorozawa is famous for being the real-life birthplace of Totoro from My Neighbour Totoro, with director Hayao Miyazaki crediting the area’s Sayama Hills for inspiring him to create the forest-dwelling character. In fact, Miyazaki himself lives in Tokorozawa, and the area has had such an influence on him that he says, If we didn’t live in Tokorozawa, Totoro would never have been born.”

▼ This map shows a large portion of Sayama Hills now known as “Totoro’s Forest“.

Tokorozawa Station is the stopping-off point for visitors to Totoro’s Forest and Kurosuke’s House (“Soot Sprite House”), which is run by the Totoro no Furusato (The Homeland of Totoro) Foundation. The foundation is one of Miyazaki’s passion projects, to which he donates generously in order to help conserve the forest area and protect it from development.

Kurosuke’s House looks like something right out of a Ghibli film, with an anime-like setting that makes you feel as if you could encounter a Totoro peering out from the lush greenery at any moment.

So it’s fitting that Tokorozawa Station will now be farewelling visitors with a snippet from the “Sanpo” opening tune (known as “Hey Let’s Go” in English) from My Neighbour Totoro.

The iconic opening phrases from “Sanpo” will be used for one melody, and a portion from the film’s closing song, “Tonari no Totoro” (“My Neighbour Totoro“) will also be used.

The station jingles will run for approximately five seconds before trains depart, with Studio Ghibli working in conjunction with private railway operator Seibu to create five different melodies, to be played across platforms 1 to 5 on the Shinjuku and Ikebukuro lines.

And to top off this sweet tip-of-the-hat to Totoro’s birthplace, a monument in the giant character’s shape will be erected near the east exit of the station by the end of the year.

▼ No word yet on whether it will look like the giant Totoro hidden inside Kurosuke’s House.

According to the city, this use of Ghibli songs as train departure melodies is a first for Japan. The new melodies will begin playing at the station on 3 November, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Tokorozawa’s classification as a city, which took place on 3 November, 1950.

The city says it first approached the animation studio with the train jingle proposal several years ago, and Studio Ghibli gave the green light for their music to be used after creating new arrangements for it in July last year. A city official says they believe permission to use the music at the station was granted after Miyazaki and his team confirmed it would be a good way to further promote green conservation efforts in the area.

It really is a fantastic way to entice Ghibli fans to make the trip out to Totoro’s Forest, and hopefully it’ll encourage more people to donate to the foundation and take part in the walking tours of Totoro’s birthplace that take place every winter and spring.

Source: Asahi Shimbun
Photos © SoraNews24
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