Take a Walk in the Forest that Inspired Miyazaki’s Masterpiece, at the Edge of Tokyo
Less than 1 hour away from Tokyo, you can take a walk in Totoro no Mori (Totoro’s forest) that Hayao Miyazaki used as an inspiration for My Neighbor Totoro (1988). To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend going there if you are only staying few days in Tokyo, but it’s still a great place to enjoy nature and the Japanese countryside : local shrines, forests, fields and Japanese typical houses. Nothing grandiose but you might be surprised to find such a peace haven near Japan’s busiest city.
After an hour train ride from Ikebukuro : Ikebukuro Line to Nishi-Tokorozawa Station and Sayama Line to Seibukyujo-Mae Station (380 yen). The station is located next to the Saitama Lions Stadium, the baseball team of Saitama Prefecture, and an impressive Buddhist temple (山口観音金乗院) that’s worth visiting for its multiple buildings and beautiful pagoda. Then, you want to join the dam of Sayama Lake where the hike starts. From the dam, you can enjoy the view of this giant reservoir and the city below. Good to know, there is a bush cut in the shape of Totoro in an orange house’s garden that is fun to see !
After crossing the dam, Totoro’s forest is located on the right. Start your hike at Horiguchi Tenman Tenjinsha, a Shinto Sanctuary, by taking one of the numerous paths that explore the forest ! I remember walking an hour in the forest before heading to the next spot : Totoro’s house !
Totoro’s house is tricky to find, but the hike to get there is beautiful ! I recommend to use google map to find the location (just copy and paste the locations’ name). First, you want to take the little path called “どんぐりの道” that leads to the lovely local shrine of Yakumo. This valley is charming because embodies everything you can find in the rural part of Japan. To reach the house, walk on the road “Mikajimabunkyo dori” for 10 min, pass by a Konbini Ministop and then take the 2nd road on your left. 50 meters away you’ll enter in Totoro’s property (Totoro Fund – Kurosuke’s House) !
The house is in the same style as the one in the movie. Entering the garden, you’ll see a big Totoro looking at you from inside the house ! This place has been erected to raise awareness of nature conservation. You can learn more about their conservation work of Saitama hills, and give a donation.
How to get there ? From Ikebukuro take the Ikebukuro Line to Nishi-Tokorozawa Station and change their for the Sayama Line to Seibukyujo-Mae Station (1h for 380 yen).
Totoro’s fund House: open from 10:00 to 15:00 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday, closed on public holidays.