The novel coronavirus Covid-19 has significantly changed the world we live in. One of the many casualties was the XXXII Summer Olympics that should take place between 24 July and 9 August 2020 in Tokyo, but was rescheduled for 24 July and 9 August 2020. This was the first time that the Summer Olympic Games have been postponed rather than cancelled.

If you plan to visit the games and you’re also a fan of My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke or other Studio Ghibli features, there’s an idea for you. Why don’t you visit Yakushima, a subtropical island off the southern coast of Kyushu and part of Kagoshima Prefecture.

Princess Mononoke (1997, Studio Ghibli, screen capture)
Princess Mononoke (1997, Studio Ghibli, screen capture)

Yakushima provided the inspiration for Studio Ghibli’s anime hit Princess Mononoke, directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The island is covered by a large cedar forest that contains some of Japan’s oldest living trees. Some of the giant cedar trees (called  yakusugi) have been growing for over 2000 years and are even honoured with individual names.

Princess Mononoke (1997, Studio Ghibli, screen capture)
Princess Mononoke (1997, Studio Ghibli, screen capture)

The Princess Mononoke forest in question is located in the Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine. One of the most amazing parts of the forest is a section of mesmerizing thick, dense woods which is covered by moss (kokemusi-mori). This is the part that inspired Princess Miyazaki and the project’s main artist, Kazuo Oga. It is believed that the animators at the Studio Ghibli needed to use 200 different shades of green in order to properly depict the wood’s spectacular deep tones.

Princess Mononoke (1997, Studio Ghibli, screen capture)

A truly magnificent island. To visit Yakushima you’d need to plan a bit, but first of all check Studio Ghibli’s movies – they are all on Netflix.