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.
Officially known as Sayama Hills, Totoro’s Forest is a natural wonderland with beautiful foliage in abundance . 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.
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.
Totoro Forest is a wooded area with paths that wind through lush foliage, which stays green all year round, but is especially popular in summer and fall. Once threatened by development, the area was saved by the Totoro Foundation, which acquired the land and preserved it, using the cinematic theme to draw visitors.
Trails wind through the park with foliage high overhead. There are a number of different paths that vary in length and difficulty. You can hike as long as you want and there are maps provided for direction. The forest has many rare tree species that are only seen in Japan. There are a number of structures to see around Totoro Forest, including old temples and shrines, as well as buildings that were used by the area’s farmers. It creates a pleasantly nostalgic atmosphere, a reminder of when this densely forested area was a farming community.
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 and when autumn comes, the misty forest is suddenly brightened up by the warm sunlight reflecting off the surfaces of billions of colorful leaves.
How to Get There
Totoro Forest is just northwest of Tokyo at the border with Saitama near Tokorozawa.
The closest station is Kotesashi Station on the Seibu-Ikebukuro Line. It’s about 40 minutes from Ikebukuro Station. From Kotesashi Station, take the Kote 09 bus from the south exit toward Miyatera-nishi. Get off at the Dainichido stop and it’s just a few minutes’ walk.
After a long and tiring day of exploring Totoro Forest, the next thing you would be looking forward is a warm and cozy place to recharge and refuel to be on the go the next day.
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