Giant castle is one of two new anime attractions revealed in Japan this week.

Since it was first announced three years ago, Ghibli Park, an upcoming wonderland in Aichi Prefecture dedicated to the magical world of Studio Ghibli, has been teasing us all with a tantalising collection of updates and developments.

This week, they finally gave us a real treat, with the unveiling of two new attractions from two of the studio’s most beloved films: Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke.

According to Aichi Governor Hideaki Omura, who has been updating his Twitter account with new details whenever they come to hand, the Howl’s Moving Castle exhibit will be located in the Witch’s Valley area of the park. 

▼ The Witch’s Valley area is marked in red on the map of the park below.

Omura says the castle is set to stand 16 metres (52 feet) in height, similar to the size of a four-to-five storey building, with rotating canons resembling eyeballs, just like the castle in the film. Inside, visitors will feel like they’ve stepped into the movie, with special areas like Howl’s bedroom waiting to be explored.

▼ This CG image of the castle only hints at how amazing it’ll be, as it’s set to be painted with colours to match the castle in the film.

The other big update from Omura is new concept art for Irontown, in the Princess Mononoke area of the park (marked in light green on the park map). Visitors will be able to enter Irontown, the outcast settlement from the movie, through its iconic wooden fence, which features a viewing platform at the entrance to recreate the fort-like feel of the town.

To get to the Princess Mononoke zone, there’ll be an extra wide path starting at the West Exit, with a three-metre (9.8-feet) wide road and a nine-metre wide footpath to create a sense of space and openness.

Fans of My Neighbour Totoro will want to take the “Rutted Road” through the woods, mimicking the nature trails from the movie, which leads to the Dondoko Forest Area (marked in purple on the park map).

▼ Dondoko Forest will feature a recreation of the countryside shrine seen in the film.

Other updates include less visually exciting but equally important details regarding things like car parks, with 400 bays being constructed on the north side and 550 bays on the east side of the park, and renovation of existing facilities on the site, like toilets, roads, entrances and rest areas.

▼ The renovated North Entrance boasts a large plaza with a store, an information centre, and a rest area housed in four circular buildings.

The site being used for the park is the former Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park, which was home to Mei and Satsuki’s house from My Neighbour Totoro. That house will remain in the new park, in the Totoro-themed Dondoko Forest Area.

The Dondoko Forest area will be one of the first zones of the park to open in autumn 2022, along with Youth Hill (where guests can visit the antique shop seen in Whisper of the Heart) and the Ghibli Warehouse, marked on the map below in orange and purple respectively.

The Ghibli Warehouse will be set up to make visitors feel like they’re miniature people in The Secret World of Arietty.

One corner of the warehouse will look like the ruins from Laputa: Castle in the Sky, complete with a robot soldier from the film.

There’ll also be a permanent exhibition room, a special exhibition room, a video exhibition room, a playground, and a shop/cafe inside the warehouse.

The park aims to utilise green energy as much as possible, in keeping with the environment-conscious theme of many Ghibli movies, and the park itself. And according to the governor, the park is still on track to open on time, in autumn 2022, which, considering we’ve been anxiously waiting for it to open since it was first announced in 2017, is a date that can’t come soon enough.

Source, images: Aichi Prefectural Government
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