Donguri Yama Totoro in Tokigawa is one of at least five Totoro spots in Saitama Prefecture. That is, places with characters from the Ghibli Movie My Neighbor Totoro. The one at Donguri Yama Totoro is just a quick stop for a photo opportunity with Totoro, if you happen to be in Tokigawa. But it is located at Yasuragi House where you can get a nice udon lunch, even try making some udon of your own. In addition, it is close to other attractions such as the Sanba Gorge and award winning Showa Retro Tamagawa Hotsprings. If you are visiting the popular Kinomura Camp, river play and BBQ spot in summer or Saitama’s only natural ice rink in winter, the Totoro is on the way to both! (If you are coming from the East).
Totoro Instaspots Saitama
Totoro Instagram spots / photo spots mentioned in this post (in 2020). Clockwise:
- Opposite the Namegawa Tobu Tojo Depot
- Yasuragi House Donguri Yama
- Totoro forest, particularly the Kurosuke House
The Donguri Yama Totoro is one of three Totoro photo / instaspots in Saitama that are already featured on this blog. I have two more to add! The main one is the life like and life size Totoro at the Kurosuke House in the Totoro Forests in Tokorozawa. Donguri Yama is about the same size as that one, but made out of brush and not life like. The third one is a smaller display in Namegawa, more about that below.
Totoro forest’s Kurosuke House
The Sayama Hills in Tokorozawa (Saitama) is well known for being one of the inspirations for My Neighbor Totoro. Kurosuke House is located in the Totoro Fund’s forest in the area. Kurosuke House features on this blog already, because unlike the other two, this location is an attraction in itself. Apart from housing a life sized Totoro, the period house also has a small green tea factory museum and an old “kura” storehouse that displays diorama from the movie My Neighbor Totoro.
However, since the pandemic, they have made quite a lot of changes at Kurosuke House. The most significant is that if you do visit, you have to sign an affidavit that you will not share photos from the site anywhere on social media. I visited well before they introduced this stipulation, hence I can share photos.
The Totoro in Namegawa is located on the side of the road opposite the Tobu Tojo line’s Namegawa Depot. It is just a display outside someone’s garden. They change the display frequently. Since I took this I saw on Instagram that they’ve added a No Face! There is nowhere to stop on the road, so you would need to park somewhere and walk up to see this Totoro Instaspot. It is not on Google maps, the closest landmark is Assault Survival Game Field. The Totoro display is just a few minutes walk from there. It is also close enough to Shinrinkoen station to walk, about 20 minutes on foot.
Donguri Yama Totoro Tokigawa
Donguri Yama means Acorn Mountain. Acorns are of course a consistent feature in the anime My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro). Donguri Yama in Tokigawa is more a hill than a mountain, but it is a nice walk. And there are several shrubs and trees that flower at different times of the year. For example, in May you can see cornflowers and poppies, as per the featured photo at the top of the post. However, spring is the most scenic when various Prunus (sakura, ume etc) trees bloom. The Totoro itself also looks better at that time of year. The first time we visited, it was in summer when he was a bit dried up and worse for wear!
The Tokigawa Totoro was made by the the local school elementary school children in collaboration with the community. They dress it up at Christmas time in Santa wear! The third image above is from a little brochure I was given as a Hikijin, written by the Hiki area “genki up” project. The brochure which can be downloaded from the site, includes several Instaspots in the Hiki area of Saitama Prefecture. The Hiki area comprises the seven towns of the Hiki District (Ogawa, Ranzan, Tokigawa, Hatoyama, Kawajima, Yoshimi, Namegawa), plus Higashimatsuyama and Higashichichibu.
There is a little walkway down by the Yasuragi House where you can take a photo of the Totoro from a distance. It looks better from a distance! There is also a look out platform above the Totoro where you can get a photo looking down on the Totoro, as per the photo on the right (bottom) above.
The walkway up to the Totoro is behind the Yasuragi House. Donguri Yama
isn’t on Google Maps is now on Google Maps. But it still doesn’t have an official website or (surprisingly) even a web page on Tokigawa Town website. But there is an Official web page for Yasuragi House. You can get a nice udon lunch here. Moreover, before the pandemic, you could also try your hand at making your own udon too.
Catbus bus stop
In addition, there are two other Ghibli Instaspot, from the Totoro movie, in Tokigawa nearby. There is a “Totoro” busstop a walk away at this photographic cafe. Furthermore, there is a Catbus bus stop in Kunugi No Nanamagari, about a 13 minute drive away. The Catbus bus stop is beside a large sugi (Japanese cedar tree). In addition there is also a large kunugi tree – a type of sawtooth oak tree – in the area, hence the village is called Kunugidaira and the flower area Kunugi no Nanamagari. At the community center near the Catbus, there is another place you can make your own udon.
The Donguri Yama Totoro isn’t somewhere you would go out of your way to visit. However, there are several cafes and restaurants in the area. And as I said in the introduction larger there are several attractions a short drive away. There is also a hiking course that starts by the entrance, to the right of Yasuragi House. Unfortunately the hiking map, on the wood plaque in the photo above, is quite faded and hard to read. We might check it out in Autumn, its a little too hot for hiking right now! Do you know of any other Totoro “Instaspot” or places of interest in Saitama Prefecture?
Donguri Yama’s Totoro Information
Don’t miss this photogenic cafe with a view of dozens of yaezakura, just up the road from Totoro!
Address: Nishidaira, Tokigawa, Hiki District, Saitama 355-0364
Phone: none provided and there is no information on the Tokigawa Town website, but presumably they would be the best people to ring! The phone number is 0493-65-1521
Hours: 24 hours, but the parking at Yasuragi House may close overnight
No official website and no information on the Tokigawa Town website
Access is a little tricky, but not impossible by public transport. First you need to get to Myokaku Station, a very quaint station on the JR Hachiko line. From there you can either get a taxi all the way, which would probably be quite pricey. Or you can get a bus to the main Sesaragi bus center. From the bus center there are infrequent loop buses that pass by Yasuragi House which is beside the Totoro.
Tokigawa is one of those places that is best explored by car. If you do come by car, supposedly its okay to park at Yasuragi House even if you are not eating there. There is also tourist car parking a three to four minute walk away at “Tokigawa Trekking Course Dedicated Parking”.