Written by Merilwen Horseback
A Walk Through Totoro's Forest In Saitama
The Forest of Totoro is a gem hidden in the mountain area of Saitama. Most popular as a hiking destination in summer, it presents itself even more beautiful in the autumn, when it's dipped in fall colors.
If you are a fan of Studio Ghibli’s movies and the beauty of Japanese nature, the Totoro Forest in Saitama will be a destination you don’t want to miss.
Just one hour from Tokyo's center by train or bus, you will find yourself being immersed in the generosity of mother nature. A deep forest with beautiful lakes, a vast sky and thousands of amazing living creatures awaits you.
Why Is It Called "Totoro Forest"?
You will see signboards decorated with the caharacters from "My Neighbor Totoro" on the way
This particular forest shares its name with the popular Ghibli character Totoro. This place served as the model for the forest where Satsuki and Mei met Totoro for the first time, as well as for the village where they lived. Mr. Hayao Miyazaki, the creator of Totoro, contributed himself a lot to this area.
Located around the Sayama Hill, the Totoro Forest is a nature reserve protected by the Foundation of Totoro no Furusato (The Hometown of Totoro). The project started in 1990. As of April 1st, 2017, 41 land acquisitions were made, increasing the total area to 76,676 m2.
How to Acess the Totoro Forest
The closest train station to the Totoro Forest is Seibukyujo-Mae Station on the Seibu Sayama Line. The red line on the map indicates a popular walking trail that will take you through many beautiful attractions before eventually arriving at the Totoro Forest.
The Fudoji Temple in the brilliant colors of autumn
On the way you can see the Lily Garden of Tokorozawa, Buddhist temples such as the Fudoji Temple and the Sayama Lake located in the Sayama Prefectural Nature Park.
A Beautiful Lake With a Mountain View
Sayama Lake is an artificial reservoir made to supply water to the Tokyo Metropolis. The lake is surrounded by a fence to prevent people from affecting the water. The only exception is the dam, which is on the walking trail.
Mount Fuji appears in the distant background of Sayama Lake
From the dam, you can see the vast forest area, which is particularly beautiful in the autumn. In the background, you can enjoy the panoramic view of the mountains. From October to March, you can even see Mount Fuji in the south on a clear day.
The forest is a favorable environment for a variety of rare birds. You can spot them while taking a leisurely walk here. The lake itself is a famous place for spending a relaxing day out.
The Forest Where Totoro Lives
Leaving the lake behind, we are heading to the woodland, which is home to many wild plants and animals. Once you enter the forest, it won't be difficult to see why it's considered “the hometown of Totoro”.
Except some narrow hiking trails across the area, most of the nature in this area is untouched.
Although this forest resembles the landscape depicted in “My Neighbor Totoro” especially during the summer, when everything is green and it often rains, autumn brings a breath of fresh air to the whole area.
The mixture of warm gold and red colors gradually takes over the cool green. This creates a most brilliant and magical landscape!
Autumn also offers a pleasant weather for hiking. The air is clear and the temperature is just about right for a little exercise. You will appreciate each and every drop of sunlight shimmering through the leaves.
Take the time to look at the various plants that make up the scenery in this forest. You might encounter some animals on the way also. The forest is home to 19 types of mammals, over 200 species of birds, and 2500 types of insects.
If you look closely, you will find that each corner of the forest hides a miniature world that is very lively and full of magic. You can imagine the scenes Mei found on her way while chasing Totoro into the woods.
Let's Go to Totoro's Forest!
This magical place named “Totoro Forest” is a real treasure trove of nature. In this vast area, lush greenery and thousands of beautiful creatures are dwelling together in harmony.
When autumn comes, the misty forest is suddenly brightened up by the warm sunlight reflecting off the surfaces of billions of colorful leaves.
“Be a lost child!”, like Hayao Miyazaki has suggested, and go for a walk in Totoro's Forest.
Isn’t this the perfect chance to let yourself get lost in the enchantment of nature? You may even find your own Totoro or sense the movement of the cat bus over the top of the trees...