Sip some tea with Totoro in this Saitama town overflowing with nature.
Tokorozawa is drenched in the magical forest atmosphere you’d expect from a fantasy anime. The western Saitama city was the inspiration for Studio Ghibli’s widely-loved film My Neighbor Totoro, after all!
This whimsical woodland is full of hiking trails, serene lakes, and green tea farms only 30 minutes north of Tokyo. You can even meet Totoro in person!
If you’ve ever wanted to escape into a Miyazaki film — and can’t get a ticket for the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo — put Tokorozawa and its Totoro Forest on your travel list.
You’ll find the Totoro Forest among Tokorozawa’s Sayama Hills. It’ll feel as if you’ve stepped right into the movie if you visit during summer when the forest is overflowing with lush greenery.
The area is a protected nature reserve funded by donations through the Foundation of Totoro no Furusato (The Hometown of Totoro).
Film director Hayao Miyazaki himself was one of the first to donate to the area preservation fund.
Snap a pic with Totoro at Kurosuke House
The over 100-year-old Kurosuke House was named after the black soot sprites Mei and Satsuki find scurrying around their house in the movie.
While the house is a bit far from the forest itself, a special guest is waiting for you upon arrival — Totoro himself! Take as many pictures as you want with the huge Totoro statue before exploring the gift shop or continuing on the nature trails nearby.
The house is free to visit, but donations which go to its upkeep are appreciated.
Cycle around Lake Sayama
Tokorozawa’s beautiful nature doesn’t stop at the Totoro Forest and Sayama Hills — you’ll also find Lake Sayama and its twin Lake Tama in the neighboring city.
The 10km path around these lakes is popular among cyclists. The lakes are part of the Sayama Prefectural Nature Park, which is scenic and serene in any season.
Cherry blossoms surround the lake in spring, and if you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji on a clear, sunny day.
Sip Sayama Green Tea
Just next door to the Kurosuke House is a Totoro-themed green tea farm and cafe called Wada-en (Map) — in case you haven’t had enough Totoro yet.
Farms, where leaves are harvested for the local Sayama brand of green tea, can be found all across Tokorozawa. If you have a few hours to spare, you can pick tea leaves and learn how to make the tasty drink yourself.