Destinations that inspired Ghibli films
Several beautiful locations were the source of inspirations to Studio Ghibli animators. Discover these amazing places across Japan with a stop over in Tokyo and you may become a Ghibli fan!
1. Aoike Lake
The Aoike is extremely unique as it changes its tone of blue depending on the time of the day! The lake and its beauty is famous for the creation of “Princess of Mononoke”.
How to Get There
The nearest train station from Aoike Lake is Juniko Station. Juniko Station is located in the North of Japan.
From Juniko Station, board the Konan Bus to Juniko. It is a 15min ride. Get off at Juniko Yokyojo and walk to Oku-Juniko Visitor Center.
2. Shiratani Unsuikyo
Lavish of greens in this national park! The place is now a “Unesco World Heritage”site. It was the souce of inspiration for the movie “Princess Mononoke” too!
How to Get there
Shirarani Insuikyo is located in Yakushima island.
Getting to Yakushima island
High speed boat from Kagoshima:
From Kagoshima port, direct boats depart every 1-3 hours. A one-way trip takes 2-3 hours and costs 8,800 yen.
High Speed boat from Ibusuki
From Ibusuki, direct boats depart once a day. A one-way ride takes 75 min and costs 7500 yen.
By Air from Osaka
From Osaka’s Itami Airport, flights depart once a day. Flight duration is about one hour. A one-way ride costs 39,000 yen.
Getting to Shiratani Unsuiko
From the port, take the bus to Shiratani Unsuiko. The buses come once every 2-3hours. A one-way ride is 35 min ad costs 550yen.
3. Dogo Onsen
Many bathhouses claim to have been the inspiration for the bath of the spirits featured in Spirited Away, but Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama is the most visually similar. Touted as Japan’s oldest bathhouse, this is the place to experience Japan’s traditional bathing culture, and even has baths reserved for the Japanese royal family alone.
Dogo Onsen is located in Matsuyama.
From JR Matsuyama Station, take tram line 5 and alight at Dogo Onsen Station. The tram takes 20 minutes and costs 160 yen.
4. Tomonoura, Seto Inland Sea
The old-fashioed fishing town of Tomonoura on the coast of the Seto Inland Sea is thought to have served as the inspiration for the film Ponyo. Though it is becoming gradually more popular with tourists, Tomonoura still retains a quiet, traditional atmosphere and an authentic charm that can be hard to find these days. Highly recommended.
How to get there:
The nearest train station to Tomonoura is Fukuyama Station. Buses from Fukuyama Station to Tomonoura run every 20 min. It takes 30 minutes and costs 520 yen to get to Tomonoura bus stop.
5. Totoro Bus Stop
There are many places that are believed to be the inspiration for the scenes of ‘My Neighbor Totoro’. The location we particularly recommend is Totoro Bus Stop in Oita. It may not be the precise location featured in the film but the name of the bus stop and the ambience are simply spot on. You will feel as if the Catbus would appear from nowhere and whisk you away!
How to Get There
Totoro bus stop is located at Oita Prefecture. From Osaka station, Oita station is approximately 4 hours away and costs 18,000 yen.
6. Safflower Field
Heroine Taeko travels on her own from Tokyo to Yamagata in this animated film. There are many safflower fields in Takase District like the one depicted in ‘Only Yesterday’ where you can replay the scenes from the film in your mind.
The Safflower field of Takase is located at Yamagata prefecture.
How to Get There
From Yamagata Station, take the JR Railway in the Senzan Line towards Takase Station. The trip will take 15 minutes and cost 240 yen.
The Safflower field is a 4 minute walk from Takase Station.