Hilarious sighting of legendary Studio Ghibli co-founder sets the Internet abuzz.

After years of planning, Ghibli Park officially opened its doors to the public on 1 November, and media outlets were there to report news of the grand opening live on television.

“Wait a sec”, you might be thinking. “Was that…Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki walking across the screen?”

The clip above really does show what appears to be the white-bearded Miyazaki walking casually by as the news camera pans over to the Grand Warehouse entrance.

It didn’t take long for people to start buzzing about the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, and things became even more intriguing when Japanese actor Takeshi Tsuruno posted the below photo of himself on the same day to his 656,000 followers on Twitter.

What in the name of Ghibli was going on?

Well, as it turns out, this isn’t Miyazaki, and it isn’t someone cosplaying as the 81-year-old director either. It’s a Hayao Miyazaki impersonator who goes by the name Izumi Pao on Twitter.

Pao has been impersonating Miyazaki for the past 15 years, and his impersonation goes beyond the lookalike hair, beard and clothes.

▼ Miyazaki is often seen around the Studio Ghibli neighbourhood during work hours wearing a cream-coloured apron.

https://twitter.com/JP_GHIBLI/status/1558097221412798464 https://twitter.com/JP_GHIBLI/status/1560612764908802050

Pao stands out for the uncanny resemblance to Miyazaki’s public persona, keeping an air of aloofness about him at all times.

▼ Whether he’s visiting some of the 15 controversial benches throughout the park

▼ …or standing outside the Grand Warehouse, we’re not quite sure how the director feels about it all.

People online were suitably impressed with Pao’s impersonation, saying:

“It’s Miyazaki’s doppelgänger!”
“He looks soooo similar!”
“The outfit is spot-on!”
“Even the way he walks is just like him!”
“It’s amazing how similar they look, especially from a distance.”
“It might not look exactly like him up close, but when he walked by on the news report I really thought it was him!”
“It’s the next best thing to seeing Miyazaki at the park!”

While both Miyazaki’s son Goro and producer pal Toshio Suzuki have happily posed for press photos at Ghibli Park, it’s unlikely that the famously elusive Miyazaki will be smiling for the cameras there any time soon.

▼ Heck, even his doppelgänger didn’t crack a smile on the day.

While Miyazaki’s lookalike helped to fulfil everyone’s fantasies of seeing the director at the park built in honour of his studio, the absence of the real Miyazaki is actually part of the humble allure that makes him so beloved by fans.

For Miyazaki, it’s all about the work, not the glitz and glam of events and accolades, so it’s fitting that he wasn’t there to soak up all the attention at the park on opening day. He’d much prefer to stay at home and do his bit to make his own neighbourhood that little bit more beautiful. After all, in his own words, he’s just a retired old man picking up trash.

Source: Twitter/@poizm via Otakomu 
Top image: Twitter/@poizm
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