It isn’t that long ago when Netflix made a major listing announcement towards the end of January, yet it feels as if it were different times back then. Normal was still normal and didn’t come with a prefix like cheap French wine does every new season. A new year had started and everyone was still hopeful this would become the best year yet. While the first signs were being reported from China, no one had any idea about what would soon happen. It would take few more weeks before the future pandemic would reach Europe and the USA and set loose the possibly worst year in our modern memory yet.
When Netflix announced it would list 21 animation movies from the legendary Studio Ghibli, all was fine in our world and despite major mainstream media coverage, the saving grace more high quality binge watching would become didn’t truly hit home yet. Except for thousands, probably millions of fans of living legend Hayao Miyazaki.
Times felt different, maybe even were different too before a majority of the world would soon be hit by weeks of lockdown and the subsequent “new normal” and the Studio Ghibli movies would provide a welcome escape from Tiger King Joe Exotic. At least to subscribers outside of the USA, Canada, and Japan.
Regularly listed among Miyazaki’s best feature films and regularly featuring in “Greatest Movies of All Time”, My Neighbor Totoro was the second official release by the newly founded Studio Ghibli. Launched in 1988, in Japan, before the movie would become a dubbed airplane showing and released in the USA in 1993, Totoro continues to capture the imagination of young and old.
Two sisters move to the country with their father in order to be closer to their hospitalized mother, and discover the surrounding trees are inhabited by Totoros, magical spirits of the forest. When the youngest runs away from home, the older sister seeks help from the spirits to find her.
— TheMovieDB plot
Since its release Totoro has become an iconic character in pop-culture and can be found in many forms in stores throughout Asia where the character is as close to mainstream as an anime character can be.
The Best Grandparents Ever?
More than 30 years after the release of the film, two Japanese grandparents took the popularity of the character to the next level and recreated the iconic “bus stop scene” — also seen in the movie image above — in real life.
In the Miyazaki prefecture, of course.
Two creative grandparents with their grandchild
The pair even provide visitors the opportunity to pose with a borrowed red umbrella to fully replicate the popular moment from the movie.
The handmade statue was created using wood, plaster, and concrete and was fully made in location. The pair sculpted the details such as Totoro’s bold eyes and his whiskers in the character. When finished, the couple added a brick and gravel path, completed with the bus stop sign.
Not surprisingly the Totoro bus stop has become a niche tourist attraction in the prefecture and is a regular feature on selfie planet Instagram as well.
Fans of Studio Ghible or Miyazaki, and Totoro die hards, who wish to check out the real life Totoro bus stop can find the cuddly monster here (Google Maps). You will have to travel to Japan though.
Visit Love Takahuru Town to explore more photos of the making of the bus stop.
If you truly love Totoro and wish to learn how to quickly draw the character, check out this short feature by one of Studio Ghibli’s producers. The tutorial was aptly released during the covid-lockdown period in Japan.