Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Ghibli Fan’s Must-Visit Spot: Totoro Forest and Kurosuke’s House

If you are a fan of Ghibli’s movie My Neighbor Totoro and the beauty of Japanese nature, the Totoro Forest (トトロの森) in Tokorozawa City in Saitama Prefecture is a destination you don’t want to miss. Just one hour from Shinjuku by train, you will be immersed in Mother Nature’s generosity. A deep forest with beautiful lakes, a vast sky, and thousands of amazing living creatures await you.

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About Totoro Forests in Saitama Prefecture

 The Sayama Hills (狭山丘陵) spread from Tokorozawa City to Tokyo. Throughout the area close to Sayama Lake, there are 59 spots named Totoro Forest. Of course, the reason for the naming convention is that the forests resonate with the one that Totoro lives in Ghibli’s famous film, My Neighbor Totoro.

Ⓒ photo-ac.com

These forests weren’t named Totoro Forest until the Totoro no Furusato Foundation (トトロのふるさと基金) was established in 1990. The Foundation’s aim is to protect nature in Sayama Hills. Using the donation received, the Foundation was able to purchase the forest little by little. Each forest the Foundation purchased was then named Totoro Forest plus a number.

The Totoro Forests are great hiking spots, especially Totoro Forest No. 1 and No. 3. Like most forests in Japan, Totoro Forests are dyed in vivid colors in fall. While these forests aren’t cherry blossom spots, the fresh green color is refreshing. When the weather becomes warmer, visit Totoro Forests to escape the summer heat. The lush greenery will block out the strong sunlight for you.

The promenade of Totoro Forest No. 1 is circular. Thus, if you follow the route, you won’t get lost and will return to the starting point without walking on the same route twice. It is mainly a forest with large cedars and sawtooth oaks. Surprisingly, tea trees are also planted on the slope!

If you understand Japanese, Totoro Forest’s official website has a couple of Walking Maps that you can refer to.

How to Get to Totoro Forest No. 1 and No. 3

From Shinjuku, take Seibu’s train and get off at Seibu Kyūjōmae Station (西武球場前駅). Totoro Forest No. 1 and No. 3 are then around a 20-minute walk.

Note a few transfer will be required. Please download one of Japan’s Transportation Apps and search the best route.

What to Wear/Bring to Totoro Forests

  • The promenades aren’t flat. Please wear sneakers or hiking shoes.
  • There are no convenient stores or vending machines in Totoro Forests. Ensure you bring enough water and snacks to keep you going.
  • Insect repellent.

Kurosuke’s House (クロスケの家)

Kurosuke’s House is the base of the Totoro no Furusato Foundation. If you are a Ghibli fan and know the Japanese of the black Sootballs, you probably have guessed it. The house was named after these balls of soot that can think in Satsuki’s house. Kurosuke’s House resembles the house that Satsuki and her family moved into in the movie. You will see a gigantic Totoro the moment you step into the house’s garden. The figure is around 2-meter-tall and occupies almost the entire room!

The complex is over 100 years old and consists of the main house, a storehouse, and a tea workshop. All of them are registered as national tangible cultural property. The house is well-maintained. With the traditional verandah, hearth, hand water pump, and painted sliding doors, you can enjoy the vibe of an old farmhouse inside Kurosuke’s House.

You might wonder what the tea workshop is for. Beyond the vast ground of Kurosuke’s House is a tea plantation. Sayama is particularly famous for the Sayama Tea! To try the tea, head to the tea store across the house. The tea sold there is delicious.

What to Expect on the Day of Visiting Kurosuke’s House

Once you have paid the admission fee, the friendly staff will show you around and answer your questions. Remember to check out the main house’s second floor. Although all in Japanese, the exhibits placed there paint a good picture of Totoro’s Hometown Fund’s activities and contributions. Mini-games are also available here and there to make the visit more enjoyable.

If you are a Totoro fan, visit Kurosuke’s House’s Storehouse. The building has a Totoro mark close to the roof on the side of the external wall. It is the perfect family crest for the house! With many figures of characters from the film, My Neighbor Totoro, the storehouse is like a small Totoro world.

Tip: Original goods are sold at Kurosuke’s House’s main house!

Kurosuke’s House’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information

  • Kurosuke’s House opens on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from
    • 10 am to 12 pm (last admission 11:30 am)
    • 1 pm to 3 pm (last admission 2:30 pm)
  • The admission fee is 500 yen.
  • To get to Kurosuke’s House, take a train to Seibu’s Kotesashi Station (小手指駅). From there, take a bus bound for Waseda University (早稲田大学) or Miyadera-nishi (宮寺西) and get off at Dainichidō (大日堂).

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