Photo by Connie Sceaphierde

Totoro’s Forest becomes final resting place of unidentified individual

In a dark twist of reality, a forest in Tokorozawa which served as inspiration for Studio Ghibli's My Neighbour Totoro, has become the final resting place of an unfortunate individual.

The heavily forested area which straddles Saitama and Tokyo is officially called Sayama Hills but became known as ‘Totoro no Mori’ or ‘Totoro’s Forest’ after it was used as the setting of the 1988 movie, and has since become a popular walking and sightseeing destination for lovers of all things Ghibli.

The official Totoro Forest website lists the area as a “forest that isn’t in its natural state but instead has been shaped by the lives of many people over a long history. Not too long ago, people's lives were supported by nature from forests such as this, with areas just like Totoro’s Forest existing across the country up until just 50 years ago. The recycling-based lifestyle that people adopted in the area has led to its continued existence.”

Today, people find peace and tranquility as they walk around it’s historical yet not too unfamiliar setting.

Photo by Connie Sceaphierde

According to livedoor news, police were alerted on the 30th of May to the presence of a skeleton in the area. The skeleton was originally discovered, appearing from underneath a pile of leaves, a week prior by a local man who was feeding cats in the area. At first sight he assumed the bones belonged to an animal and left it at that. A week later however, the man came to the grim discovery that the bones were human and contacted the police.

This is not the first time that the area has been linked to human tragedy, as was the case in 1963 when 16 year old Yoshie Nakata was abducted, raped and murdered. The incident sparked outrage amongst the different social classes of Japan, as the man who was convicted insists he was exploited by the police because of his burakumin (outcast group) status and that they fed him false information. To this day he is still seeking the chance to clear his name.

The Sayama incident is believed by some to be the story inspiration behind Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbour Totoro, due to several subtle hints towards death and to certain elements of the 1963 case, however, Ghibli and Miyazaki have both denied the claim.

Police have since removed the body from the area and are currently working to investigate the cause of death and to confirm the identity of the victim.

By - Connie Sceaphierde.