For the anime fans, Studio Ghibli’s classic anime techniques and surreal stories keep our childish hearts delighted. But didn’t you know that beyond the magic, each film’s setting is inspired by real-life locations? Here are the places that became visual inspirations for Studio Ghibli’s movies:
1. The Secret World of Arrietty
Koganei, Tokyo, Japan
Koganei is home of the second largest park in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. Different flowering plants and trees paint the area with splashes of colors, making the place a good site for recreation and photography. Koganei isn’t actually a popular tourist area, but this is where you can find Studio Ghibli Inc. Yes, that’s the actual animation studio.
2. Castle in the Sky
Paronella Park, Queensland, Australia
Paronella Park is a heritage-listed tourist attraction built by Jose Paronella, a Spanish immigrant, who dreamt of building a castle. After marrying his wife in Spain, they went to Australia and he found the perfect 5-hectare land beside Mena Creek Falls. Together with the castle, he also built tennis courts, water fountains, a movie theater, and a hydro-electricity plant.
3. Porco Rosso
Stiniva Cove, Vis Island, Croatia (Hideout)
Stiniva is a sea cove that has a 4-5 meter sea entrance that expands inside making it a real perfect hideout. This protected natural monument is easily accessed by boat and a bit of a challenge if you travel by foot; but discovering the hidden alcoves and beaches will be surely worth it.
4. Kiki’s Delivery Service
Visby, Gotland, Sweden
The walled Viking town of Visby is now one of Scandinavia’s preeminent medieval cities and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden
Another preserved medieval city, Gamla Stan (Old Town) is one of Stockholm’s best attractions filled up with narrow cobblestone streets and buildings colored in different shades of gold. You’d pretty much find other magical places in here from one of the largest palaces in the world to the narrowest street in town. Besides the old town, you can even check out Stockholm’s metro art gallery.
Ross Bakery, Tasmania, Australia (Guchokipanya)
Looks like Miyazaki likes to get lost and find himself in unexpected places like this old-fashioned bakery in Tasmania. Due to its popularity among the animation’s fans, the bakery even made a three-bed room in the small attic above it named Kiki’s room available for travelers.
Setonaikai National Park, Japan
Setonaikai or Seto Inland Sea is Japan’s Mediterranean Sea as it stretches over 400 kilometers inside ten bordering prefectures and includes 3000 islands. Some of these islands are inhabited and made into a destination for beach lovers and art enthusiasts. Setonaikai is one of the first designated national parks in Japan.
6. Princess Mononoke
Yakushima, Osumi Islands, Kagoshima, Japan
Yakushima is a subtropical island covered mainly by an extensive cedar forest which includes some of Japan’s oldest trees with ages that could reach over 1000 years. The island’s 2000 meter high mountains make it a good hiking spot, but only for the well-prepared hikers for rain showers happen daily. No one wants to get lost right?
7. Howl’s Moving Castle
Colmar is already known for its colorful, well-lit German slash French architecture and cobblestone streets that have awed a lot of tourists, making them feel that they all suddenly got warped into a storybook. No wonder it’s known as the world’s most beautiful town.
8. My Neighbor Totoro
Sayama Hills, Saitama, Japan
Sayama Hills is known to be a woodland paradise floating amid the reservoirs of Tama and Sayama lakes in northwestern Tokyo. It includes four major parks that draw in visitors for activities (watching cherry blossoms, picnics, pottery and other crafts), trees, creatures and views unique in each area.
9. Spirited Away
A former gold mining capital and now a tourist shopping destination, Jiufen is a village within the hills of north-eastern Taiwan that has an old district with streets all packed up with cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops. You can even enjoy the view of the Pacific Ocean while munching on the district’s famous taro balls, beef noodles, pork rice, fish balls, dumplings and more. To simply put it: Jiufen is a food paradise.
So, have you picked your real-life Studio Ghibli destination?