Satsuki and Mei’s House was an extremely popular pavilion at the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi Prefecture. Fans raved over this true-to-the-movie recreation of the house where the Kusakabe family lived in Hayao Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor Totoro”. And now, even those who lost out in the scramble for tickets during the expo have a chance to take their time and enjoy the exhibit! This is a great opportunity to enjoy the world of Totoro with the whole family.
Amazing Attention to Detail! It’s JUST Like the Movie!
Satsuki and Mei’s House is so perfectly recreated that children will recognize it at first glance, and even those not familiar with Ghibli will be able to appreciate it. It is by no means a half-hearted attempt. The very structure itself is faithful to the timing of the story, which takes place around 1955. It was built using the same traditional construction techniques that would have been used to build a wooden house in Japan in 1950. The level of detail is stunning – the pillars on the front porch are even rotting a bit, just like in the movie (though they are reinforced for safety reasons).
True to the Movie, and True to a Showa-era Lifestyle
The most amazing thing about this house is that it’s fully equipped – you could live there if you wanted to. The fact that someone could actually have a bath in the Goemon-buro (a bath heated from underneath), use the range in the kitchen, or use the bathroom here reflects the thorough attention to detail. As mentioned before, this is a perfectly recreated house using revived Showa-era construction techniques. There are even some parts of the house that are no longer produced and had to be procured from the remains of demolished old houses. It’s the real deal!
Must-See Recommendations (Outside)
So – you have a total of 30 minutes to see the house, with 15 minutes to spend outside and 15 minutes to see the inside. It’s worth noting that while you can take pictures outside, taking pic-tures inside the house is prohibited (reason given is that they would prefer you to be immersed in the house rather than in your camera). For the time allotted to view the outside of the house, why not walk around and take some pictures? You can even take pictures looking inside. Also, the staff are more than willing to take a picture of you with the house in the background to help commemorate your visit.
There is plenty to admire while you’re taking pictures, including the bicycle that the family rides together, the water well (with a working pump!), the bucket with a hole in the bottom, the path-way under the floor that the Totoro runs through, and even a faithful recreation of the bus stop. Although it has no direct connection to the movie, there’s a decorative dragonfly sitting above the rain gutter on the roof. Also, notice the Japanese symbol と (the to in totoro) playfully em-blazoned on the onigawara (Japanese gargoyle-esque tiles) that cover the gutters, an idea that came from Hayao Miyazaki’s son Goro himself.
Must-See Recommendations (Inside)
Head on in through the genkan. The family’s shoes are in the getabako (Japanese style shoe-box) as expected, and the closets and drawers of the house are filled with everyday essentials. You’ll find yourself trying to guess what might belong to whom as you get a taste for Showa-era life. The living room even has Mei’s writing desk on display. By the way – the house is set to reflect how it would appear after the end of “Totoro”, when Mei and Satsuki’s mother has come home from the hospital, so you can get a feel for how they would have lived as a four-person family. This means that you can find some of the mother’s things in the house as well.
A secret staircase leads to the 2nd floor. Remember the scene where Mei sticks her finger into a crack in the wall and the dust bunnies fly out? They’ve included that as well, although guests are unfortunately prohibited from going upstairs. Sorry!
Perfect for Adults and Kids Alike!
The Mei and Satsuki’s House exhibit is so detailed that you’re likely to overlook a thing or two. The exhibit also changes based on the season making repeat visits to the house worthwhile. Heavier bedding can even be found in the closets in the winter time, as if a family was really liv-ing there. You’ll feel like you’re in the world of Totoro, something that people of all ages are sure to enjoy. Sounds fun, right?
Same-day tickets are on sale at the park, but you can also make a reservation in advance for convenience. Reservations can be made at Lawson convenience stores in Japan using their Loppi computer terminals. Also, be aware of the hours of operation and arrive well in advance of closing, as the parking lot is a bit far away and you’ll have to walk to reach the site.
Satsuki and Mei’s House
Aichi-Kyu Hakunen Kinen Koen (Morikoro Park)
Address: Aichi-Ken, Nagakute-shi, Ibaragabasama, 1533-1 TEL: 0561-64-1130 (If outside Japan, +81 561-64-1130)
Entrance Fee: Adults - 500JPY Children 4-12 - 250JPY Children under 4 - Free
Hours of Operation: 9:30AM - 4:00PM (Tours arranged on set schedule. See website for de-tails)
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