New Totoro merchandise combines cute anime with ancient Japanese pottery traditions

Totoro chopstick rests, lanterns, cups, and figurines created by Shigaraki craftsmen specialising in tanuki raccoon dog figurines.

Japan has a long and revered history of pottery making that stretches all the way back to the Jōmon period (10,000–300 BCE), making it one of the world’s oldest ceramic traditions in the world.

Today, this esteemed history of earthenware production is being upheld by the country’s most noteworthy ceramic kilns, known as the Six Ancient Kilns, consisting of Seto ware and Tokoname ware in Aichi Prefecture, Bizen ware in Okayama Prefecture, Echizen ware in Fukui Prefecture, Tamba ware in Hyogo Prefecture, and Shigaraki ware in Shiga Prefecture.

All these kilns produce distinctive styles of pottery unique to their area, and for Shigaraki ceramicists, their claim to fame is the tanuki raccoon dog figure, commonly seen outside ramen restaurants as a lucky figure that helps draw good fortune to their business.

▼ This promotional display for the town that produces
Shigaraki Ware showcases the tanuki they’ve become famous for.

Image: ©SoraNews24 

Now, the tanuki craftsmen are using their skills to craft a series of products dedicated to an equally rotund and adorable character: Totoro from the Studio Ghibli anime film My Neighbour Totoro.

The new collection of handmade merchandise has been created by Shiga Prefecture’s Meizan Ceramics using sandy clay from the bed of Lake Biwa, the biggest lake in Japan, which gives each piece a distinctive warm orange hue.

▼ This three-piece Totoro set retails for 11,664 yen (US$105).

The price might seem steep, but each piece has been carefully handmade by a master craftsman in the centuries-old Shigaraki ware tradition.

In addition to the Totoro figurine trio, Meizan have created some other items in homage to Totoro and his anime friends, like this chopstick rest set, which retails for 2,916 yen.

The four-piece set contains a small, medium and large Totoro, along with a black soot sprite seen in the film.

And if you want to add some matching drinkware to your chopstick rests, Meizan have created these adorable handcrafted mugs in green and white, which retail for 3,240 yen each.

Rounding off the Totoro homewares collection is this LED lamp, which has been so delicately made it allows light to seep through its surface.

▼ Retailing for 4,104 yen, this is one of the most popular Totoro items in their range.

The complete collection is currently available to purchase from the Village Vanguard online store, where some items have been so popular they’ve already sold out. However, out-of-stock products are still in stock at the official Meizan site, which offers international shipping, so you’ll be able to add these to your other limited-edition Totoro collectibles, no matter what country you’re living in!

Source: Meizan via Japaaan
Featured image: Village Vanguard
Insert images: Meizan, Village Vanguard (1, 2, 3, 4)

Ghibli anime is real? Totoro Catbus spotted on the streets of Hiroshima【Video】

But this amazing tribute to Hayao Miyazaki’s classic film isn’t actually a bus.

Unlike many other large cities in Japan, the downtown area of Hiroshima doesn’t have a network of train and subway lines crisscrossing through it. Instead, the city’s network of quaint streetcars is the most convenient way to get around.

However, a recent video shows that the awesomest way to get around is by the famous mode of transportation from Hayao Miyazaki’s iconic anime My Neighbor Totoro: the Catbus.

On a recent evening Hiroshima resident and Twitter user @ryouta_3 was cruising around the city’s Naka Ward, traveling in the left-hand lane. As he glanced over to the sidewalk, he spotted the unmistakable form of the beloved Studio Ghibli character/vehicle

As @ryouta_3 pulls past the puss, we can see that it even has the light-projecting eyes of the anime original.

However, if you’re watching the video with your speakers turned on, you’ll notice that while this looks like the Catbus from Totoro, it doesn’t sound like it. There’s actually a lot of rattling and clanking, because, though it’s hard to see in the video’s dim light, @ryouta_3 says this Catbus is actually a heavily modified bicycle!

The impressive two-wheeled cosplay quickly elicited comments including:

“That is seriously amazing.”
“Wow, the eyes function as bike lights.”
“Awesome. I wish I could have seen it with my own eyes.”
“Hey, if it’s a bus, it shouldn’t be on the sidewalk.”
“Is there a person inside there? I can’t see.”
“Maybe Totoro is inside?”

A few detractors said they’d have been creeped out to encounter the anime-loving bicyclist at night, but they were far outnumbered by appreciative Ghibli fans who said they’d love to be walking down the street and see a Catbus sliding by. Given how much work obviously went into designing the “costume,” it seems certain that the rider wasn’t doing this as a one-time thing, so hopefully we’ll see the Hiroshima Catbus again soon (though if we need to tide ourselves over, there’s always the Catbus at Tokyo’s Ghibli Museum).

Source, images: Twitter/@ryouta_3

Seiko to release new Ghibli watches, including limited-edition 30th anniversary Totoro watches

Fans of Kiki’s Delivery Service will also want to check these out.

It’s a great time to be a Ghibli fan right now. With the Ghibli amusement park in the works, an adorable Totoro cafe opened in Thailand, and Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki out of retirement, fans have numerous things to look forward to from their favorite animated film studio.

Plus, even with tons of great Ghibli merchandise already available, new Ghibli products are always becoming available. Adult fans of My Neighor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service may especially like the newest line of casual watches from Seiko which feature adorable motifs from these classic animated movies.

This collection of eight watches is from Seiko’s brand for everyday wear, Alba, and are designed to be affordable, stylish watches that fans of Ghibli can wear at any age. Each of the face designs are subtle yet adorable, while the straps and casings of the watches are sleek and chic. They’re designed with women in mind, but of course any Ghibli fan can appreciate their mature homage to these beloved films.

The watches’ faces come in four different designs for each movie, totalling eight unique varieties, and the leather straps come in seven different colors, so hopefully anyone can find a style that they like.

But the faces are not the only Ghibli-specific features: the back of the straps and the stainless steel watch case are also engraved with Totoro and Kiki motifs. Fans can appreciate the quiet nods to the films on every corner of these new watches.

In addition to the eight styles above, two limited-edition My Neighbor Totoro watches are going to be released exclusively to celebrate the movie’s thirtieth anniversary. The face’s design comes in ivory and black, and features a small Totoro peeking over a flower garden and holding a four-leaf clover.

These watches are limited to just 1,000 units in each style and come with a serial number on the back of the case ranging from 0001 to 1000, which verify their authenticity. They’ll also have the words “30th Anniversary” engraved on the back and will come in a cute “30th Anniversary” box, so these are guaranteed to become super collector’s items.

Each of the regular edition watches will be priced at 9,000 yen (US$81.64) and will be on sale from July 7, while the limited edition Totoro watches will retail for 15,000 yen starting from August 4. The company are being coy about where you can get these, making them real collector’s items, and while there’s no word yet of overseas or online sales, visitors to Japan may want to look out for them at Ghibli merchandise shop Donguri Kyowakoku or any store where Seiko watches are sold as soon as they can.

Looking for more Ghibli goods? Totoro collectors will love the limited-edition handmade reproduction cels of the film, which are now available for preorder, and fans of Kiki’s Delivery Service might also like Donguri Kyowakoku’s new line of Kiki perfumes. If you’re a Ghibli fan, it’s almost guaranteed that there’s a product out there for you!

Source, Images: PR Times

Studio Ghibli creates gorgeous hand-made Totoro reproduction cels for fans and collectors【Video】

An iconic image from Hayao Miyazaki’s anime classic is ready to adorn the walls of superfans’ homes.

Like many fans of Japanese animation, my student-day bedroom walls used to be covered in cheap bootleg wall scrolls of anime art, as well as even cheaper laminated color photocopy posters of anime art. Now a full-grown adult, I’ve had to scale back the fanboy elements of my home décor, but this gorgeous piece of Studio Ghibli artwork is classy enough to grace the walls of any home.

One of the most beloved images associated with director Hayao Miyazaki’s 1988 classic My Neighbor Totoro, the scene shows sisters Mei and Natsuki frolicking through a field of tall grass, accompanied by the titular forest spirit and his tiny white version. Awash with warm color, it’s a throwback to an earlier era of anime visuals, instilling a sense of nostalgia even in those who didn’t personally live through that age, much like Studio Ghibli’s films themselves do.

To celebrate My Neighbor Totoro’s 30th anniversary, Studio Ghibli is producing a limited (and unspecified) number of reproduction cels. And if the idea of “reproduction” has you thinking that some corporate moneygrubber is just sitting at a computer and clicking “print” over and over again, think again. Each cel is hand-made by Studio Ghibli artists using a silk-screening process, as demonstrated in this preview video.

▼ The cel is colored on both sides, with the character colors applied to its back and the environmental ones to its front.

While this particular drawing doesn’t appear in the film proper, it’s become one of the most iconic pieces of key art for Totoro. Each reproduction cel comes with background art and a frame made of Japanese Kishu Hinoki cypress, bears a hand-printed “edition number,” and is bundled with a certificate of authenticity from Studio Ghibli.

Preorders for the artwork, officially called Cel Art Print From Studio Ghibli My Neighbor Totoro, are now being taken online here through Ghibli merchandise specialist Donguri Kyowakoku. Each cel/frame combo is priced at 70,000 yen (US$640), with shipping scheduled for late July.

Sources: IT Media, PR Times
Top image: PR Times
Insert images: PR Times, YouTube/どんぐり共和国そらのうえ店, Donguri Kyowakoku

May’s Garden House Restaurant: The first Totoro-themed restaurant officially licensed by Studio Ghibli

The grand opening is scheduled for late May.

For Studio Ghibli fans around the world, a visit to the Ghibli Museum in Japan is a dream destination. Now, though, there’s a new spot vying for everyone’s attention, and surprisingly, it’s not in the animation studio’s home country of Japan – it’s in Thailand instead.

Called May’s Garden House Restaurant, the new establishment is the first Totoro-themed restaurant officially licensed by Studio Ghibli. While the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo’s Mitaka district is home to the Straw Hat Cafe, where diners can enjoy a changing menu of items inspired by a number of Ghibli films, an official restaurant dedicated solely to the star of My Neighbour Totoro has never existed…until now.

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Located in Sukhumvit, Bangkok, May’s Garden House Restaurant has been inviting guests to dine with them during their pre-opening period, which began on 16 April. With guests providing feedback on the menu and the facilities, the restaurant’s grand opening is scheduled for the end of May, by which time some of their yet-to-be-unveiled areas, like the Children’s Playground, the Orchid Glasshouse, the Boat Water Pool, the Library and two Halls are scheduled to be completed.

▼ While adults will love the new restaurant, many of the areas inside have been designed with children in mind.

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A first look at the interiors show there are a lot of Totoro surprises in store for visitors.

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▼ Meals will be served in a bright and spacious dining room, with a giant Totoro to keep everyone company.

While the menu is yet to be finalised, some of the offerings provided to guests during the pre-opening period look to be pretty delicious.

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▼ Totoro’s Forest in Thailand is filled with Isaan food!

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As well as Thai soups and curries, there are other more meaty dishes on the menu, like chicken wings.

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The significance of the chicken wings on the menu harks back to the intriguing story that led to the actual creation of the restaurant. According to a discussion by Ghibli producer and co-founder Toshio Suzuki on Tokyo FM Radio, the idea for the restaurant came about after one of his visits to Thailand, where he met up with an acquaintance who was a single mother working to provide for her young children and extended family in the rural Pak Thong Chai Village.

The half-Thai, half-Japanese woman called Kanyada owned a humble stall that served up delicious chicken wings, which Suzuki immediately fell in love with. However, on a recent trip back to the restaurant, the owner told him she would have to shut the restaurant, as there weren’t enough customers visiting the rural town to keep her in business.

▼ Suzuki says Pak Thong Chai Village in Nakhon Ratchasima Province brought back memories of the Japanese countryside from his childhood, and also conjured up images of Totoro’s Forest.

Coincidentally, Kanyada’s nickname was May, similar to the main character of Mei in My Neighbour Totoro, which gave Suzuki the idea for the new restaurant. Touched by her plight, he called it “May’s Garden House Restaurant”, and designed it so that the flavours and atmosphere of May’s rural town could be brought to the city of Bangkok, where diners could conjure up images of the countryside while chowing down on those tasty chicken wings.

▼ Suzuki was the driving force behind the opening of the new restaurant in Thailand.

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Suzuki’s love for Kanyada’s chicken wings may have also been the inspiration behind Colko and Peeko, two characters that he designed exclusively for May’s Restaurant.

These original mascots also bear a resemblance to the Siamese Fireback, the national bird of Thailand.

Aside from the cute merchandise, there’ll also be some adorable meals to choose from, with Italian owner-chef Federico Colpi, a colleague of Suzuki’s from the anime industry, overseeing the development of the menu.

Fluffy Mini Totoro Steamed Buns In Caramel Sauce.

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Neko Bus Has Come To Town

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May’s Hat

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A Gift From Totoro

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Totoro in the Rain

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Sleeping Totoro

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And while you feast on Totoro, the characters from the film will be there to greet you at every turn, including a giant Totoro that everyone is bound to fall in love with.

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Suzuki also designed the sign for the restaurant, playing up the Totoro theme with an image of the Cat Bus from the movie.

So whether you’re able to make it over to Thailand or not, you can expect your Instagram feed to soon be inundated with cute images of Totoro and friends from May’s Garden House Restaurant. Here are the details below so you can get in on the action too!

Restaurant Information
May’s Garden House Restaurant
Address: 18 Soi Lak Khet (Sukhumvit Soi 29), Khlong Toei Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok, Thailand
Hours: 12:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m.

Source: Facebook/May’s Garden House Restaurant via Ghibli no Sekai
Featured image: Instagram/May’s Garden House Restaurant

Why was Kanta’s Granny picked to be on the Joker card of this My Neighbor Totoro deck?

Is she a secretly evil old lady? Or a prankster spirit in disguise? Japanese netizens discuss.

My Neighbor Totoro is a world-famous movie written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, but it is so popular in Japan and Asia that you can buy Totoro merchandise of every kind. Fancy a bathing suit with Totoro’s face on it? Or a startlingly Totoro-like giant stuffed animal bed (which we are assured by the makers is definitely not Totoro)? How about a tea collection? You name it, we’re willing to bet you can buy it.

One particular Totoro souvenir has become a hot topic on Japanese Twitter recently: a deck of playing cards featuring scenes and characters from the movie. It all started when one Japanese netizen wondered why Kanta’s nice old granny was the character chosen to be on the joker card.

▼ “I really can’t figure out why Granny would be on the joker card if she didn’t do a single bad thing in the story!”

Typically, when you have multiple characters from any franchise represented on playing cards, each one is assigned a value, like King, Queen, Jack, etc. And, usually, those values are also equal to the role the character plays in the story. The “joker” might be a prankster whose role is to cause problems in a story, or in the traditional definition, they might be a stupid and/or funny character.

Granny clearly doesn’t fit the bill of either definition. She’s no troublemaker, jokester, or fool; she’s a very serious and sweet lady, always helping out her neighbors and acting motherly towards the local children. So why should she be placed on the joker card? Some netizens made jokes that Granny is actually ridiculously strong, based on the fact that the joker is the strongest card in many playing card games:

“Granny is the strongest!”
“My friend always laughs at this card, saying Granny is really strong.”
“She’s probably like a secret boss.”
“It’s because Granny is the trump card [of the movie]!”

▼ Could it be because of how loudly she yells “Kanta!!!” when her grandson gets in trouble?

But the prevailing theory among Japanese netizens is actually based on a pun. In a popular card game in Japan called “Baba Nuki”, the ultimate goal is to get rid of all of your cards and so you won’t get stuck with the joker card, or the “baba”, at the end of the game, and thus be named the loser. “Baba” in Japanese is also a word for granny, so some netizens theorize that Ghibli took advantage of a very punny opportunity by placing a “baba” on the “baba” card.

In all honesty, though, it might just be coincidence that Granny showed up on the joker card. After all, the other joker in this deck is the father of the two main characters, and each of the four versions of each number card have different pictures of different characters anyway.

But what am I saying? That kind of logic doesn’t have a place in these conversations, and it won’t stop Japanese netizens from discussing this and other such important topics of our time.

Source: Hachimakiko
Featured Image: Twitter/@yabu777

Ghibli characters come to life in time-lapse painting of magical My Neighbor Totoro scene 【Video】

This talented artist paints a detailed Ghibli movie scene every time a child is born into the family.

It’s always nice to hear about unique family habits and traditions that tie relatives together in profound ways. In Japan, we’ve seen families who live by interesting mottos and others who take pride in unconventional rituals, but for one family in Germany, they have a different way of bonding, and it involves some stunning artwork from Studio Ghibli.

Called “Son of Ghibli” on YouTube, this German-based artist has started up a beautiful family tradition, saying: “Every time a child is born into our family I a paint a scene from “My Neighbour Totoro” (となりのトトロ) as a present for them.

Going by the first painting shared by Son of Ghibli online, these are some lucky children, as the beautiful image created looks exactly like a magical scene from the movie. The time-lapse video of the artwork being created shows just how much work goes into the process.

Take a look at the making of “Totoro in the Tree” below:

The video begins with the initial pencil drawing, which goes from a rough sketch to a more defined image after it’s tidied up with an eraser and some bold lines.

Once the initial drawing is complete, it’s time to give it some colour. Here, the artist uses Nicker poster paints, which are the same paints used by Studio Ghibli artists for their anime artwork.

By gradually building up the colour, the Ghibli scene comes to life, with a variety of brushes used to get the right amount of precision in all the finest details.

The final result is a beautiful painting that not only captures a magical moment from the movie, but also captures the heartfelt sentiment of joy and love from artist to child.

The fascinating journey from sketch to finished painting now has us inspired to take up our own brushes to try our hand at creating a Ghibli masterpiece of our own.

Looking at some of the artwork inspired by the famed animation studio, including a Stranger Things crossover and this Guillermo del Toro Totoro,  there are plenty of ideas out there to help guide us on our artistic journey!

Source: Kotaro Blog
Images: YouTube/Son of Ghibli