Stars and Stripes – Pretend to be an anime character in the fantasy village of Ghibli in Japan
Known for its beaches and green tea farms, the Japanese prefecture of Shizouka is also home to a fantastic village that is a bit off the beaten track.
On the outskirts of Hamamatsu, Nukumori No Mori, meaning ‘the hot forest’, is a small and charming shopping and dining area inspired by stereotypical visions of fantasy realms.
Designed by Japanese architect Shigeyoshi Sasaki, the village atmosphere emulates the vibes of Studio Ghibli, the Legend of Zelda and European fairy tales.
Although Nukumori No Mori has no affiliation with Studio Ghibli, it’s easy to feel like one of the characters in the fantasy animated films while walking the winding paths past fancy cottages and storefronts selling items such as pottery, baked goods and jewelry. When I visited this spring, I felt like I saw a mythical being like Totoro around the corner or saw shops selling phoenix feathers or unicorn tears.
The magic comes from the isolated forest setting and the fact that every structure right down to the public washroom matches the theme.
To add to the otherworldly environment, Nukumori No Mori houses an aviary where guests can pet and interact with the birds.
Entrance to the village is 400 yen, or about $ 3.65 per person, while those over the age of 70 and children under “high school age” are free. A ticket to the owl shop costs 1,000 yen.
I also stopped for lunch at the flagship restaurant in the village, Douceur. It has the kind of fanciful taverna atmosphere where you can imagine the characters from Dungeons and Dragons having dinner.
Douceur serves French-inspired prix fixe meals ranging from 1,500 yen to 4,100 yen for lunch and 3,000 yen to 6,000 yen for dinner. I was able to get in around 2pm on a Saturday without calling ahead, but reservations are recommended for large groups. The restaurant is closed on Thursdays.
Because the trip to Nukumori No Mori is almost 3.5 hours away from Tokyo by car, I suggest doing a full weekend themed “cottagecore” aesthetic by adding a visit to Kakegawa Castle and a tea picking near Kakegawa. or Makinohara to the itinerary.
Nukumori No Mori has free parking, but spaces are limited, so get there early. The village is open every day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Although it is possible to arrive by public transport, the isolated, hillside location of the village invites a car ride.
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directions: To find Nukumori No Mori, enter “Nukumori Koubou” on Google Maps. Due to the isolated location of the village, travel by car is recommended. From Tokyo, take the Ken-O Expressway towards Shizouka and exit at the Hamamatsu-nishi interchange. The trip costs about $ 40 per trip in tolls. Google Plus code: QM84 + 5W Hamamatsu, Shizuoka
Time: Open every day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The main restaurant and some shops are closed on Thursdays.
Fresh: Entrance is 400 per person.
Food: You will find a French restaurant, small cafes and sweets throughout the village.
Information: Telephone: +81534861723; Online: nukumori.jp