Donguri Yama Totoro in Tokigawa is one of three Totoro Instaspot in Saitama. 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. 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 in Saitama Prefecture, 2020. Clockwise:
- Totoro forest, particularly the Kurosuke House
- Opposite the Namegawa Tobu Tojo Depot
- Yasuragi House Donguri Yama
The Donguri Yama Totoro is one of three Totoro photo / instaspots in Saitama. 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.
**Please note the Kurosuke House and grounds are closed for the month of August.**
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
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. Spring is the most scenic when various Prunus (sakura, ume etc) trees bloom. The Totoro itself also looks better at that time of year. We visited in summer when he was a bit dried up and worse for wear!
The 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 second 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.
The walkway up to the Totoro is behind the Yasuragi House. Donguri Yama isn’t on Google Maps and 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.
Catbus bus stop
There is another Ghibli Instaspot from the Totoro movie in Tokigawa about a 13 minute drive away. There is a Catbus bus stop in Kunugi No Nanamagari, beside a large kunugi tree – a type of sawtooth oak tree. This one is on Google Maps here. There is a community center nearby that offers an udon making hands on experience.
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?
720-1 Nishidaira, Tokigawa, Hiki District, Saitama 355-0364, Japan