Have you ever watched the movie “My neighbor Totoro”? Do you remember the beautiful countryside where the two sisters meet the mystical creatures, and the great adventure in the movie? If you do, check out below photos of Sayama Hills, you will find how similar the forest is to the scenes in the movie as many of the settings in the movie are actually based on Sayama Hills.
How to Get There
to Seibu-Kyūjō-mae, it’s a 45-60 minute ride by train. And around 30 minute walk from Seibu-Kyūjō-mae Station to the forest.
Strolling in Totoro Forest
Walk Guides to Totoro Forest
1. Yanasegawa River
It’s a 20 minute walk from the Seibu-Kyūjō-mae Station to Yanasegawa river, turn left at the sign of 柳瀨川.
Yanasegawa river is on the way to Totoro Forest, from an interview with Hayao Miyazaki, he indicated the movie scene in Spirited Away, Chihiro pulled out the old bicycle from the stink spirit, was inspired while he attended a pro-environmental activity in Yanasegawa. Strolling along the river reminded me about the song：Day of River in Spirited Away.
2. “Totoro no Mori (Totoro’s Forest) #1, #3, #15”トトロの森1号地. 3号地. 15号地
“Totoro no Mori" is the lands acquired by The Homeland of Totoro Foundation with the donation from across Japan to preserve the nature of Sayama Hill, once you enter the Sayama forest, there are three Totoro no Mori, #1, #3, #15, and four others of them in the forest.
3. “Totoro no Mori #11”トトロの森11号地
4. The Wind Trail
On the way to the two sisters’ house, there’s a path(どんぐり道) leading us to an extensive view overlooking the Sayama Hills, it’s one of my favorite places about the forest, it reminds me the movie when May is chasing little totoro all the way into the forest, and the song Path of the Wind in the movie.
There’s a good view of the houses, vegetable gardens and tea gardens.
Sayama tea is one of the major Japnese tea, tea gardens could be seen on Sayama Hills, and there’s a tea house next to May’s house(クロスケの家) where nice tea is served, and the hostess is friendly.
5. The Two Sister’s House(クロスケの家)
If you follow the orange route on the map passing the どんぐり道 and the shrine(八幡神社), few minutes later, you will see this stone carved with 馬頭觀世音, but as I mention above, if you step down the wrong stairs from the shrine hills, everything on every road is quite similar, there is other stone with the same words and vending machines somewhere in the area, make sure you come across two nearby vending machines, then to 大日堂 and this stone, and the following buildings so is the two sisters’ house, all of them take no longer than 5 minutes in between.
Finally the house!
Totoro is welcoming us.
The giant Totoro is the best present for this trip.
We met the TBS at every Totoro no Mori, and the last destination, the Sisters’ House where the Totoro Fundation was based, I thought they were filming the forest for record of the forest and the activities for preservation and making an interview for their goals for the environment and the upcoming acquisition for another Totoro no Mori the end of the month.
We had tea in the tea house next to the two sisters’ house, the hostess speak little English, but we communicate through gestures, and really had a good time there, they even gave me two tea bags as a present while we were leaving, they were the first Japanese we had a rather deep talk, and I really like them a lot.
6. The Beauty of Sayama Lake
7. Totoro Tree(トトロの木)
This is the gutter I mention previously, it’s the only walkway I find according to the map, you see why I recommend you the main road.
The residential area to the totoro tree.
The source of Yanasegawa river.