Dogo Onsen, daytime

Actual Studio Ghibli Locations to Visit When in Japan!

Japan is known for their manga and anime creations. Over two billion manga, Japanese comic books, or graphic novels are sold in Japan each year while anime, or animated Japanese films and television shows, account for 60% of the world’s animation-based entertainment. Studio Ghibli, Inc. (株式会社スタジオジブリ Kabushiki-gaisha Sutajio Jiburi) is a famous Japanese animation film studio that produces some of the highest grossing films in the world.

Japan has so many places that are simply awe inspiring. From cultural landmarks to natural wonders, Japan is simply teeming with them. These places have become inspirations for some of the well-known Studio Ghibli, Inc. anime. Check out locations of some of the best loved Ghibli animations.

Dogo Onsen, MatsuyamaSpirited Away

Spirited Away is about the 10-year old Chihiro Ogino (Hiiragi) and her adventures in the spirit world.  The famous bathhouse scene in the anime Spirited Away is memorable for anyone who has seen it. The inspiration for the bathhouse is Dogo Onsen, one of the oldest hot springs in Japan. Located in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, Dogo Onsen has a history that can be traced back to 1000 years being first mentioned in the Man’yōshū, written in 759, “Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves, the oldest extant collection of Japanese poetry.


My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro tells the story of two young daughters (Satsuki and Mei) of a professor and their interactions with friendly woodland spirits during postwar rural Japan. At Sayama, Saitama Prefecture, only about an hour and half away from Tokyo, the Totoro Forest is maintained by the Totoro no Furusato Foundation. Kurosuke’s House, a 100-year-old traditional Japanese house, is what is in the anime with Totoro to boot.

Shiratani Unsuikyo streamPrincess Mononoke

The story follows the adventures of the young Emishi prince Ashitaka as he gets entangled in the struggle between the gods of a forest and humans who squander its resources.

The Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine (白谷雲水峡, Shiratani Unsuikyō) was the inspiration for the magical forest of “Princess Mononoke.”

The forest is in Yakushima (one of the Ōsumi Islands in Kagoshima Prefecture), a green, lush nature park with a number of islands growing with ancient cedar trees like Kugurisugi, Yayoisugi, and Nidaiosugi. A network of hiking trails runs along the forest’s ravine. Several recommended paths vary in length, from a short one hour to a five-hour trek. You can also wander off  and explore on your own, choosing your own trail.

Tomogashima 3rd trail

Castle in the Sky

The backstory of Castle in the Sky tells us that human civilization built flying cities that were destroyed by a catastrophic event. This led survivors to live on the ground except for Laputa who remained in the sky and is concealed within a powerful thunderstorm. On the island of Tomogashima, Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture there’s a brick fort and lighthouse built on the abandoned island that dates back to the Meiji Period. The overgrown moss that covers the structures make it really seem like the city of Laputa.