After decades of waiting, we’re finally going to get to ride the Catbus!

Since the Studio Ghibli anime film’s 1988 release, people around the world have been dreaming of riding My Neighbor Totoro’s Catbus. Next month, we’re finally going to get the chance to.

Ghibli Park, the Ghibli-themed theme park located near Nagoya in the city of Nagakute, Aichi Prefecture, has conducted its opening in stages. So while the park first started welcoming visitors in the fall of 2022, the facility has had a number of updates and expansions. One of the most highly anticipated is the introduction of Catbuses for fans to ride, which were promised by Ghibli, Toyota, and Monet Technologies when they announced the joint project in early 2023, and the partners have finally revealed the date when the Catbuses will go into service: March 16.

Officially called the APM Catbus, the adorable vehicle is based on the APM (short for “Accessible People Mover”) that ferried athletes around Tokyo while the city was hosting the most recent summer Olympics. Visual details include, of course, the unmistakable Catbus smile and tail, plus its distinct roof-mouse lighting markers, and for those who can read Japanese, you’ll notice that the destination marker, which reads “Ghibli Park,” has its final ク katakana character written backwards, for an extra touch of pure-hearted whimsy.

In addition to looking the part, the Catbus will also feel the part, with a fuzzy feline fur-like covering to its seats.

The bench seats can hold six passengers, and while the top speed of 19 kilometers (12 miles) per hour means the Catbus isn’t a thrill ride, its eco-friendly electric-vehicle status is something you have to think creator Hayao Miyazaki would be pleased by.

The Catbus route is yet to be revealed, as are the eligibility as to who will be able to ride. Ghibli Park is unique in many different ways, one of which is that it’s made up of multiple non-connected areas within the expansive, open-to-the-public Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park. The Catbus will supposedly ferry guests from one Ghibli Park section to another, but it’s unclear if a Ghibli Park ticket will be required to ride it.

More details are likely to come following the official unveiling ceremony for the finished Catbus, set for later this month, but in the meantime it’s good to know that the real-world Catbus will be here soon, and on the same day that Ghibli Park’s Howl’s Moving Castle and Kiki’s Delivery Service-themed Valley of Witches expansion opens.

Source: Kuruma News via Livedoor News via Jin, Monet Technologies
Top image: Studio Ghibli
Insert images: Aichi Prefecture
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