Many Studio Ghibli fans are excited about the new Ghibli Park which will open in Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park (愛・地球博記念公園) come 2022. But do you know that there is already a real-life version of the house from My Neighbor Totoro, belonging to the lead characters Satsuki and Mei, that you can visit in the Expo Park right now?
Satsuki and Mei’s House (サツキとメイの家)
The life-size Satsuki and Mei’s House was recreated for Expo 2005 and it remains a popular attraction in the Expo Park (also known as Moricoro Park) today. Here, you can experience the Kusakabe’s daily life in their home as seen in the film. If you are visiting the house soon, go watch the film before going. Your visit becomes more enjoyable when you can spot the tiny details that remind you of the specific scenes in the film.
The exhibit was perfect but I wished Totoro and the soot sprites were there as well.
You can enter the Moricoro Park for free but there are separate charges for the various attractions. Like the Ghibli Museum, admission to Satsuki and Mei’s House is staggered. There is a total of eight 30-minute tour timings on weekdays and 14 tour groups during the weekends/public holidays. Up to 50 persons per group are allowed entry in each time slot. Tickets are good for a specific date and time. On the day of my visit (a Sunday), the first tour (at 9.30am) was almost full.
Above Junior High School – ¥ 510
Age 4 to 15 – ¥ 250
Below 4 years old – free
This shows that tickets for 3 May are sold out!
While same-day tickets are sold at the venue, there is a risk that they may be sold out when you arrive. You can check the number of tickets available as of the day before from the official website. It is best to reserve your tickets early if you have a fixed travel itinerary.
How to buy advance tickets
1. Buy from Loppi terminal in any Lawson or Ministop convenience store. First, you need to find the L code (Lコード). Then refer to this English guide on how to use the Loppi terminal. Or ask a friend who is in Japan to buy for you. I once asked my Airbnb host to help me buy tickets. You may want to try asking yours.
2. Book via Voyagin. This is more costly but you can get the tickets delivered to your hotel.
3. Make an online reservation on Lawson Tickets website. Reservation for each day’s tickets starts at 10 am on the 10th of the preceding month but you need to book at least 2 days ahead. You don’t have to register to become a member before making a reservation.
Step 1: click this for internet reservation
Step 2: click this for details
Step 3: click this after selecting your preferred date and time slot
Step 4: enter the number of adult (大人) and child (小人) tickets you want to buy and click this
You will receive a confirmation email (in Japanese) with instructions on how to collect your tickets at a Lawson or Ministop convenience store. You can collect the tickets up to the day of your tour. Google translate the email (including the page with the QR code) and screenshot or print it out for reference. You will need the telephone number and name that you used when you made the online reservation plus the reservation number in order to access your reservation on the Loppi terminal. Pick up the application ticket (printed from the Loppi terminal) and within 30 minutes, bring it to the cash register to make payment and collect the actual tickets. I would recommend that you go to the store at a less busy time so that a staff can help you from the beginning (i.e. at the Loppi terminal).
After you have successfully made your reservation, why not check out what other interesting events you can catch during your trip. See the Recommended Tickets (おすすめのチケット) section or search according to area or category.
How to get there
If you are traveling between Tokyo and Osaka/Kyoto, Nagoya is an ideal city for a stopover. From Nagoya, you can reach the Moricoro Park via Ai-Chikyuhaku-Kinen-Koen Station (愛・地球博記念公園駅) (check Google directions). Do allow more time for your travel as you need to arrive 15 minutes before your tour time.
Walking Route to Satsuki and Mei’s House
Not one to take chances, I arrived at Moricoro Park even before the main gate was open (8 am)! Upon entry, I parked my campervan next to Morikoro Park Total Information Center モリコロパーク 総合案内所 (Mapcode: 30 610 748*33) and walked. I was too early for the first shuttle bus which departs at 8.50am. I took about 20 minutes to reach the reception counter of Satsuki and Mei’s House (which opens at 8.30am).
At the reception counter, I exchanged my ticket for an entrance pass. Since I was very early, I spied the Studio Ghibli merchandise booth and explored the surrounding area before joining the queue for the tour.
Visitors are put into 2 groups – A and B. The guides will give a briefing on the rules (in Japanese) and then lead the groups to the house. Group A will enter the house first while group B will explore the outside. After 15 minutes, the groups swap places.
Visitors are free to touch all the exhibits (even opening the drawers and cabinets) except those in the father’s study room which is roped off. You also can’t go up to the second floor.
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, I feel the viewing duration was too short.
* If you arrive early, you can exchange your ticket for an earlier tour provided there are vacancies.
* Go to the nearby observation deck to get a good view of the whole house and the surrounding area.
* You are not allowed to take photos and videos in the house but it is permitted outside. So you can take photos of the interior from outside through the doors and windows.
Other Park attractions
The Moricoro Park is the largest among Aichi Prefecture’s 10 parks. It is huge with gardens, children’s play areas, a Children’s Centre, various sports facilities, a water park, an ice skating rink, a heated swimming pool, a giant Ferris wheel, shops, and restaurants. Why not explore the other parts of the Park after your visit to the Kusakabe’s House. Here is an English Map of the Park.
After the tour, I went past the observatory to the Forest School which was also constructed for Expo 2005. Here, you can find experieces, classes and exhibits related to nature. After that, catch the return bus from bus stop 7.
Check out some of the photos that I took within the nature-themed Park.
The Ghibli Park
I spent a wonderful half day at the Moricoro Park but I wished I had more time to spend there. Well, I am sure I will be back when the new Ghibli Park opens. According to the Basic Concept of Ghibli Park, the area around Satsuki and Mei’s House will be expanded and transformed into the Dondoko Forest (どんどこ森). Oh, I can’t wait!