Japanese city crowdfunds to preserve forest that inspired film │ GMA News Online

TOKYO – A Japanese city is launching a crowdfunding campaign to help preserve a special spot of woodland: the forest that inspired the animator of the beloved movie “My Neighbor Totoro.”

The city of Tokorozawa outside Tokyo plans to buy the 3.5-hectare “Totoro Forest” for 2.6 billion yen ($ 19 million), with crowdfunding covering just a small portion of that, a city official told AFP.

“The area is one of the places that director [Hayao] Miyazaki developed ideas for Totoro after walking there, “the official said, adding that the plan aims to turn the forest into a nature reserve.

The 1988 animation film from Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli features the cuddly but mysterious forest spirit character Totoro, who has become an instantly recognizable figure for fans around the world.

The forest that inspired his home is about 30 kilometers northwest of Tokyo and has some 7,000 oak trees.

Tokorozawa will ask crowdfunding participants to contribute 25,000 yen ($ 185) and in return, they will receive prints of background artwork offered by Studio Ghibli.

An initial 1,000 sets will be available, targeting donors inside Japan, although additional rounds could be organized if there is interest, the official said.

While the campaign will only cover a small portion of the cost of buying the land, the city is hoping it will bring attention to the forest and build support for its preservation.

Miyazaki, who co-founded Studio Ghibli with Isao Takahata, is known for a string of animated hits, including “Spirited Away,” though Totoro is one of his studio’s most beloved characters. – Agence France-Presse