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Osaka Abandons Totoro Lawn Art Due to Copyright Issues (Updated)

posted on by Egan Loo
City employees trimmed 10-meter Totoro into lawn without prior approval

The city of Osaka has decided to abandon a 10-meter-wide (about 30-foot-wide) picture of the anime film My Neighbor Totoro that its employees had trimmed into a lawn, due to concerns that the picture was not authorized by the copyright holders. The lawn art is located in the Shinyūhigaoka plaza on the artificial island of Maishima in northern Osaka Bay, and can be seen on the Rental Cart Circuit Supoburo blog. The city acknowledged that the lawn art attracted visitors, but said that it was careless not to obtain approval from the copyright holders.

The staffers of the city's port authority began trimming the Totoro artwork into the lawn around the year 2000. However, the city did not investigate the possible copyright issues until last summer, and the copyright holders at Studio Ghibli had not been contacted before then. The city decided there was no reason to maintain the art and thus pay copyright usage fees. As a result, it decided to abandon the lawn art and let nature grow over it.

When the Sankei Shimbun paper contacted Studio Ghibli's public relations department about the matter, the department said, "No comment."

Many cities and towns in Japan have incorporated images of My Neighbor Totoro onto public and private property. A man erected a Totoro statue next to a bus stop in the city of Sankai in the southwestern Japanese prefecture of Nagasaki (with the permission of the bus company). The Daily Tohoku Shimbunsha website notes that My Neighbor Totoro characters were trimmed into an elementary school's yard in the northeastern Japanese town of Gonohe. A shopping center in the southwestern Japanese town of Ayagawa assembled a 2.1-meter-tall (7-feet-tall) Totoro statue out of 10,000 pine cones. Totoro director Hayao Miyazaki himself has supported two communities' efforts to preserve wooded areas that inspired the backdrop of his film.

Source: Sankei Shimbun

Image © 1988 Nibariki - G

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