11 Places in Kyushu That Look Like Scenes From a Ghibli Movie
Kyushu, the southernmost of the four main islands of Japan, boasts incredible history and food culture. But Kyushu's wonders don't end there, as this region of Japan overflows with natural scenery and sightseeing spots so magical that they look like scenes from a Studio Ghibli movie. So, if you ever wondered where Studio Ghibli took place and how you can visit the real-life locations that inspired Miyazaki, look no further! In this article, we are going to discover the world of Ghibli with these 11 special locations in Kyushu.
May 19 2021 (Jun 22 2021)
Where Do Studio Ghibli Movies Take Place? 11 Studio Ghibli Related Places to Visit in Kyushu, Japan
・Board the Cat Bus at the Real-Life Locations of the My Neighbor Totoro Bus Stop
Kiki's Delivery Service
・Kiki's Delivery Service Bakery (Yufuin Floral Village, Oita Prefecture)
The real-life version of the iconic bakery in Studio Ghibli's Kiki's Delivery Service is located in Yufuin Floral Village, a picturesque area famous for its hot springs and surrounding nature. Yufuin Floral Village is an amusement and shopping area reminiscent of the atmosphere of the European countryside, with quaint alleys decorated with flowers and small buildings that look as if they've come straight out of a fairy tale. Kiki's Bakery is part of the colorful scenery of the village and is modeled after the bakery seen in the Ghibli movie where the protagonist - the witch Kiki - works at, delivering bread by broomstick after moving out of her parents’ home. Just as in Studio Ghibli's Kiki's Delivery Service, the real-life bakery offers delicious bread and pastries, as well as the chance to greet Jiji - Kiki's talking black cat.
・Donguri no Mori Studio Ghibli Store (Yufuin Floral Village, Oita Prefecture)
Since you can find Kiki's Bakery here, is there also a Studio Ghibli store in the area? The answer is yes! Luckily, one of Studio Ghibli's stores is conveniently located in Yufuin Floral Village! The Yufuin Floral Village Studio Ghibli Store - Donguri no Mori - is a tiny wooden house surrounded by greenery where you can find Studio Ghibli goods and memorabilia. Once you have your stomach full with the delicious pastries and bread from Kiki's Bakery, you can spend some time exploring the charming village and commemorating your Ghibli-themed day with some Studio Ghibli souvenirs! Thanks to the magical surroundings of the village, you'll feel like you're in your favorite Ghibli movie!
You’ll need reservations while in Japan. See our writers’ top picks!
My Neighbor Totoro
・Totoro's Forest (Itoshima, Fukuoka Prefecture)
The real-life location of Totoro's forest can be found in Fukuoka's Itoshima area, a tropical retreat with a charming beachside, pristine nature, and several insta-worthy cafes! Totoro's forest is located inside Keya no Oto Park and was the inspiration for the lush-green nature that is a common theme in Studio Ghibli's My Neighbor Totoro. The forest is so similar to the one in the movie that you'll think you might encounter Totoro while walking amidst the dense vegetation. As you explore tunnels made of intricate branches and mysterious pathways covered in leaves, you are sure to feel like Mei chasing after Ghibli's spirit of the forest!
Board the Cat Bus at the Real-Life Locations of the My Neighbor Totoro Bus Stop
・Takaharu Tonari no Totoro Bus Stop (Miyazaki Prefecture)
Have you ever wished to meet Studio Ghibli's Totoro in real life? At the Takaharu Tonari no Totoro Bus Stop, you can wait for the bus together with Studio Ghibli's sweet spirit of the forest! Waiting for you in Miyazaki Prefecture's lovely countryside, this Totoro was built by a local pair of grandparents who wished to create something fun for their grandchildren, but it has since become a hit on the internet. Every year, countless travelers pay a visit to Takaharu's Totoro to snap a commemorative photo while holding an umbrella, so that they can recreate the famous scene in My Neighbor Totoro. If you forgot to bring an umbrella with you, fret not! They started renting red umbrellas, as well as selling Totoro acorn "omikuji" (fortunes written on strips of paper), and postcards for as cheap as 100 yen.
*This Totoro is located on private property, so be sure to be respectful when visiting and taking pictures. Visitors are also not allowed at night.
・Hita Tataragi Bus Stop (Oita Prefecture)
As this is a bus stop dedicated to local students, it's a pity visitors can't get on the bus! But Hita's Tataragi Bus Stop is so cute, it will make you want to wait for Studio Ghibli's Cat Bus anyway! Tataragi Bus Stop was revamped with the help of Ghibli's Cat Bus and Totoro in the effort to revitalize the local tourism and make both adults and children smile when visiting. The giant Cat Bus artwork is reminiscent of traditional Japanese moss art, according to which moss is an element of beauty and simplicity, and has been appreciated since ancient times for the contribution to memorable Japanese landscapes and serene gardens.
・Saiki Totoro Bus Stop (Oita Prefecture)
As this bus stop is located in Saiki City's Totoro District, its official name is Totoro Bus Stop. Thanks to its unique name, the small bus stop became famous after the release of Studio Ghibli's My Neighbor Totoro. After the movie became a hit, the locals started decorating the bus stop with Totoro-themed illustrations and signboards with scenes from the movie, such as the one representing Satsuki and Mei waiting for the Cat Bus. The surrounding natural scenery is also reminiscent of the Studio Ghibli movie, so the world of Totoro started expanding beyond the bus stop to a nearby small park which is now nicknamed Totoro no Mori (Totoro's Forest). There, visitors can view a beautiful signboard of the Cat Bus as well as a multitude of Mini Totoro lined up on an oak tree.
・Hiramamachi Totoro Bus Stop (Nagasaki Prefecture)
Nagasaki Prefecture has its own Studio Ghibli Totoro Bus Stop! This picturesque spot that looks like one of My Neighbor Totoro's most famous scenes is located in Hiramamachi surrounded by tranquil rice fields. Totoro, the Cat Bus, along with Satsuki and Mei with their iconic red umbrella, were all lovingly crafted by a local resident who created this recreation for his grandson but then decided to share it with the world. It's the perfect spot to take the ultimate photo with all the characters from My Neighbor Totoro!
・Amami Oshima Totoro Bus Stop (Kagoshima Prefecture)
Japan's tropical paradise, Amami Oshima, also boasts a cute Totoro Bus Stop which means this remote island is a great place to refresh yourself in nature and have marvelous marine adventures as well as Ghibli-themed explorations. This real-life location of the Totoro Bus Stop is located in Setouchi City right beside the Setouchi Town Fire Department and was built by the firefighters using scrap wood and their secret artistic skills. No Ghibli fan would be able to resist the allure of taking a photo here!
・Yakushima (Kagoshima Prefecture)
The cedar forest growing on the secluded island of Yakushima is one of the biggest inspirations for Princess Mononoke's otherworldly natural scenery. Home to some of the oldest trees in the world (the most ancient of which may be over 7,000 years old), the real-life location of Studio Ghibli's Princess Mononoke embodies the mystery and wilderness that is witnessed in the movie, serving as the perfect background for the mesmerizing Japanese folklore portrayed by Miyazaki's artwork. In particular, the mystical environment of Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine coated in deep-green moss is so magical that visitors might feel like they are going to encounter the same spirits and creatures they've previously seen in Princess Mononoke.
・Sasaguri Forest of Kyushu University (Fukuoka Prefecture)
Located on the western side of Kyushu University, Sasaguri Forest is another real-life representation of the forest we can admire in Studio Ghibli's Princess Mononoke. You might remember that some of the movie's most stunning scenes are set in a semi-submerged forest - Sasaguri Forest's Waterside Forest of bald cypress trees inspired that scenery. As this type of tree can grow submerged in swamps, they reflect green hues on the surrounding water, so that this spot retains a magical aura fitting with Princess Mononoke's themes such as spirits and Japanese folklore. The 17-hectare forest can be visited through several hiking courses, but the most popular one is the 2-kilometer Sasaguri Kyudai No Mori Course that focuses on the main attractions of the forest.
・Takeo Shrine 3,000 Year Old Tree (Saga Prefecture)
Originally built in the year 735 at the foot of Mt. Mifuneyama, Takeo Shrine was a place meant to pray for the peace of the region. The shrine houses the Great Camphor Tree of Takeo, a 3,000-year-old sacred tree that is believed to be the dwelling of the gods. The 27-meter-tall tree hides a cavity inside its trunk which has a circumference of 20 square meters. This impressive size, the giant roots spreading across the mossy ground, and the bamboo forest in the background all enhance its solemn figure. In the presence of such awe-inspiring scenery, you'll surely feel like one of the characters of Studio Ghibli's Princess Mononoke!
・Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine (Kumamoto Prefecture)
Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine embodies all the mystical vibes of Studio Ghibli's Princess Mononoke thanks to its striking location: a lush forest of impresive cedar trees. The path to the shrine is highlighted by an ancient staircase dotted with stone lanterns and torii gates coated with moss. The location has been venerated for millennia thanks to its unique natural features that made the locals identify it as a power spot. Visitors are sure to experience the same otherworldly atmosphere that Studio Ghibli portrayed in its famed movie, Princess Mononoke.
・Spirited Away's Railway (Nagabeta Seabed Road, Kumamoto Prefecture)
Kumamoto Prefecture is also home to one of the real-life locations of Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away. Nagabeta Seabed Road is an underwater road that features bizarre utility poles that emerge from the water - instantly reminding you of the railroad that appears in Spirited Away when Chihiro and No Face board a train traveling on the surface of the sea. Thanks to the magical effect of the tide, this Studio Ghibli's location is visible during low tide while it disappears during high tide. The best time to visit the Nagabeta Seabed Road is at sunset, when the water is tinged in warm hues, perfectly recreating one of Spirited Away's most iconic scenes.
Castle in The Sky
・Laputa Road (Kumamoto Prefecture)
This winding road in Kumamoto Prefecture is said to be the real-life location of the road that leads to the floating castle of Laputa in Studio Ghibli's Castle in the Sky. Officially known as Road 339 or Milk Road (because of the number of cows that can be seen in the area), this picturesque road in Kyushu has gained itself the nickname of Laputa Road due to its resemblance to the iconic Ghibli scenery. Laputa Road is located on the side of a mountain with panoramic views of vibrant grasslands stretching in every direction. It is especially reminiscent of Studio Ghibli's Castle in the Sky when the clouds cover the nearby plain and it looks like the road is floating in the sky.
*Laputa Road is currently under reconstruction.
Nobeoka Laputan Robot (Miyazaki Prefecture)
Nobeoka City's Kitagawa Riverside is now the dwelling of the ancient robot that once lived in the floating castle of Laputa. Surrounded by the lush nature of the region, Studio Ghibli's iconic robot peacefully waits together with one of Laputa's cute fox squirrels, Princess Mononoke's mysterious kodama spirits, and Spirited Away's quirky No Face. Being a paradise of rare animals and plants as well as blessed with warm weather, Nobeoka's natural scenery perfectly matches the magical atmosphere fans enjoyed watching Studio Ghibli's Castle in the Sky. The Laputan Robot was built here to watch over the children living in the area, with the hope that in the future even more children could spend a pleasant day playing in the green surroundings!
Laputa Ruins (Himegaiyama Cannon Ruins, Nagasaki Prefecture)
Located on Tsushima Island, the Himegaiyama Cannon Ruins are said to be another inspiration for Studio Ghibli's Castle in the Sky. At the real-life location of the floating castle, visitors will encounter abandoned brick buildings swallowed up by nature and ruins cocooned in vegetation. Originally used for military purposes, the island had 30 military forts built from 1887 to 1945 that now create a fascinating space with a retro atmosphere. The remote Tsushima Island is also a hiker's paradise thanks to its ancient forests and mountains with panoramic views, as well as a goldmine for beach enthusiasts who can enjoy a great number of stunning marine landscapes.
You’ll need reservations while in Japan. See our writers’ top picks!
Explore Kyushu and Its Wonderful Studio Ghibli Real-Life Locations
Whether you are a fan of Studio Ghibli or not, you are sure to be in awe in front of the beauty of the locations that inspired Miyazaki's artwork. From historical ruins, to mystical forests and ancient shrines, not only can you enjoy your time surrounded by your favorite Ghibli characters and scenery, but these Studio Ghibli's real life locations can make for a great travel plan of its own when visiting Japan!
Explore the Kyushu Area
There are many areas to be explored and things to be discovered all across Kyushu, so be sure to make your way to Kyushu to experience everything the area has to offer!
Visit Kyushu Official Website: https://www.visit-kyushu.com/en/
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.