In news that can only make that Friday feeling even better, Hayao Miyazaki is building a real-life version of the vast and beautiful landscapes that graced his Studio Ghibli films for the past decades in a nature park for children on Kume, an island just off the coast of Japan.
The 74 year old animator and director will be funding the £1.6 million project himself and donating the park to the town of Kumejima when it’s fully constructed. Building is planned to begin in April 2016, and will hopefully be complete by 2018. The park will very much be involved in helping the local economy, using local construction materials and taking the opinions of locals into account when it comes to the running of the park.
There are no concrete details on what exactly will be in the park, or even whether it will include anything that relates to Studio Ghibli, but the plans do include a two floor, 1,000-square-metre building made of reinforced concrete designed to accommodate 30 people. The park is intended to be built in a forest, an entirely interactive site where children will be able to immerse themselves in nature.
Miyazaki’s films often stress the importance of humanity and childhood’s relationship to nature, most notably in films like Princess Mononoke and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. This isn’t the first philanthropic thing Miyazaki has done in the Japanese community, either, supporting a program to help children affected by the Kukishima nuclear explosion of 2011.
Miyazaki’s creations are enjoyed by adults and children alike, but it’s unclear whether or not the park will be open to adults who won’t be accompanied by children; if it’s not I better put in my babysitting requests to friends now. “Can I take your child to the park?” “Yeah, which one?” “Just a nice little one I’ve found that’s situated on an island off the coast of Japan, we’ll be back in a few days.”
For a man who has admitted that he feels very pessimistic about the world around him, he certainly doesn’t make us feel that way, and his commitment to being a force for good is inspiring. Even if the park doesn’t allude to anything from his previous creations, it will no doubt be a landscape that’s just as imaginative and beautiful, all the better for being something new from the animator’s mind.
Main Image via Flickr ©Kyla Duhamel