The co-founder of Studio Ghibli, legend Hayao Miyazaki, has a new passion project in the works. The creator of Howl’s Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro, and Princess Mononoke will translate his love for conservation into a million-dollar nature preserve for children.
Miyazaki donated 300 million yen ($2.5 million U.S.) of his own money to build a 10,000-acre sanctuary called “The Forest Where the Wind Returns.” Kume Island, to the west of the Okinawa islands in Southern Japan, will be the home of the park. It will replace existing playground equipment, and “encourage children to enjoy nature through their five senses,” according to Kyoto News.
Plans call for the natural playground — plus a library and sleeping quarters — to be situated on the south part of the island, in the Zendo Park Forest. Instead of swing sets or sport courts, there will be a carefully arranged garden with trees and boulders for kids to climb on.
Japanese design firm Kume Creation will be undertaking the design of the park. According to a Kume Creation rep, there will be plenty for children to explore. There are seawater pools that form beaches and streams, mountains to hike, and a two-story building made of reinforced concrete that can house 30 people.
Construction begins next spring, and they hope to finish in time for a 2018 opening. The first overnight guests will be local kids and kids from Fukushima who were displaced by the tsunami. Miyazaki will not retain ownership; the park is a gift to the island of Kume.