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Miyazaki Designs Park at Burnt-Down 'Totoro's Home'

posted on by Egan Loo
My Neighbor Totoro director's book featured this house before February fire

Oscar-winning director Hayao Miyazaki has designed a park on the site of the Tokyo house that was nicknamed "Totoro's Home" — before it was burnt down in a suspected arson case on February 14. The design of the park incorporates the remnants of the house's red roof. Kondō, the 85-year-old woman who had lived at the house for 35 years, said, "It's like a miracle. I want this to become a park that many will treasure."

Kondō's family built the one-story, Western-style wooden house with a red roof and white window frames in the western Tokyo suburb of Asagaya around 1930. The olive trees, roses, magnolias, and 50 other kinds of plants that grew all over its garden led Miyazaki to highlight the house in his 1991 book Totoro no Sumu Ie (The Homes that Totoro Lives in). Miyazaki had created and directed the My Neighbor Totoro film (1988) about mysterious forest creatures that a family discovers in 1950s Japan. Miyazaki called the house a "home that Totoro would have enjoyed living in dearly."

Kondō, a former instructor at a local design school, lived in the house from 1972 until the summer of 2007. She had planned the house as her final home when she retired. However, she had to move to a nearby house due to her age and other reasons. When 6,300 people signed a petition, the Suginami government purchased the house and the surrounding land after Kondō moved out. The government had already planned to spruce up the house and its surroundings into a public park before it burnt down in February.

At the time of the fire, Kondō was in a hospital for heart surgery. Kondō was reportedly devastated after she left the hospital and stood before the remnants of the house. However, with Miyazaki's help on the revamped design, the local government decided to continue its plans to create a park. The government will detail its plans in a Friday meeting with the local urban environmental committee and residents. If all goes according to schedule, the city will complete the park in the middle of next year.

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun

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