If the Spirit of the Forest, Cat Bus or Totoro were real, you can be sure they would live in a nature sanctuary created by Hayao Miyazaki. The award-winning film maker has long included his stance on nature and the environment in his movies and now he is going one step further to ensure that at least one small corner of the Earth will stay pristine.
Working with the local government of Kumejima, Hayao Miyazaki will fund a nature retreat that allows children to appreciate and discover a deeper connection with the natural world around them. The facility is being built in an area that is already an unused playground and the plan pledges to seamlessly incorporate all structures harmoniously with nature.
▼ A sketch of the proposed facility
Kumejima is a small remote island and part of Okinawa, though it sits 55 miles (about 88.5 kilometers) west of the main island. This isolated location will guarantee that Miyazaki will be able to keep the sanctuary exactly how he wants it. The local government has kindly donated about 10,000 square meters (almost 2.5 acres) to this project and the retired director will be using his own money, to the tune of US $2,500,000, to build the facility. In the preserve, the main structure will be a two-story dormitory that can hold about 30 children. Construction is likely to begin in April 2016 with a completion date of 2018. He also hopes keep the project “Made in Kumejima” and will be working with local construction and design companies to support the island.
▼ Now begins a new adventure in Kumejima for you!
Miyazaki has been concerned with the impression the digital age has left upon children and feels that kids are missing out on the wonders of the natural world. Themes of humanity’s interconnectivity with nature have run strong through his films, especially in Princess Mononoke, where the natural world is seen losing to the creeping progress of human technology. He hopes that children who stay at the sanctuary will develop a better relationship with the world around them, so you can imagine that video games and cell phones will be contraband at the location.
Like all things created with Miyazaki’s guiding hand, the nature preserve will be stunningly beautiful and remind us of the power and splendor of Earth. However, just like the giant Cat Bus at the Ghibli Museum in Chiba Prefecture, it will be for kids only.