The world of My Neighbour Totoro crosses over into real life.

With Ghibli Park’s 1 November opening now less than three months away, excitement is at an all-time high here in our office as we can’t wait to see what magic awaits us once the themed areas finally open their doors.

One person who’s particularly excited for the opening is our reporter Seiji Nakazawa. His enthusiasm has been so great that he even took a trip out to Aichi Prefecture to see the park a few months ago and get a sneak peek at what was going on.

▼ There are five areas in the park (clockwise from top right): Mononoke VillageWitch’s Valley, Dondoko Forest, Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse, and Hill of Youth.

One area he wanted to check out was the Dondoko Forest section, which is home to a full-scale replica of Mei and Satsuki’s house from My Neighbour Totoro.

▼ However, this area, like the others, was off limits to the public.

▼ “Due to Ghibli Park Construction, Satsuki and Mei’s House is closed.”

Mei and Satsuki’s House was previously open to the public as it was built on this site as a pavilion during the 2005 Aichi Expo, well before the idea of a Ghibli Park had even been conceptualised. However, it closed in November last year for a much-needed facelift ahead of the park’s opening.

Seiji may not have been able to get inside for a good look at the renovations, but he found a workaround, thanks to this platform at the elevator, which is open to the public.

▼ From here, you can get a good look at Mei and Satsuki’s House from above.

▼ The house, which looks just like the one from the film, is the shining jewel of Dondoko Forest.

Looking at the area with the naked eye from the elevator platform doesn’t reveal a lot of details, but Seiji had his trusty Nikon Coolpix B600 with him, which has a 60x zoom lens.

Zooming in with his camera, Seiji was able to see lots of details, including the words on the bus stop, which read: “To Satsuki and Mei’s House. In front of the meeting place“.

Other details include a beautiful set of sliding glass doors beside the engawa, or verandah, which also makes an appearance in the movie.

Beside the main house is another building that’s being given a spruce-up before the park’s grand opening.

Previously, this building was unpainted and had an older roof, but now it’s just about ready to welcome visitors.

▼ Somehow, these flowers looked anime-esque, as if they’d bloomed through the barrier between the movie and the real world.

As the areas that make up Ghibli Park are being built within the preexisting Ai・Chikyuhaku Kinen Koen (“Aichi Earth Expo Memorial Park”), it’s possible for visitors to stroll around the grounds of the memorial park while the various sections are being built.

So that’s what Seiji did, in an effort to get a little closer to Mei and Satsuki’s house.

Seiji was hoping to hear the rustling of leaves and maybe even catch sight of a couple of pointy ears disappearing into the bushes during his stroll, but alas, he didn’t come across Totoro.

He was now very near to the house and its surrounding lake, though, which looked like a beautiful spot for visitors to wander around.

Given the compact size of the house and its surroundings, Seiji is glad the park has decided to adopt the same staggered entry system as the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo.

▼ In the end, this is as close as Seiji could get to the cluster of buildings at Mei and Satsuki’s house.

So he decided to head back home, and on his way out of the area, he passed by a cute Dondoko rest area.

Now that he’s had a sneak peek at the progress going on at Mei and Satsuki’s house, Seiji is eagerly counting down the days until he’s free to really explore the area, and all the others in the park, when it opens in November.

Judging by the photos we’ve seen so far, the 4,000 yen all-inclusive tickets for adults are going to be well worth the investment this fall!

Photos ©SoraNews24
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