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Legendary Animator Hayao Miyazaki to Create a Remote Nature Sanctuary for Children

Unlike Walt Disney World, this animation icon’s park will be full of natural beauty, not gift shops and food courts.

sketch of proposed miyazaki nature sanctuary

In 2013, Hayao Miyazaki, whose work is considered by some to be the best animation ever created, saddened fans by announcing he was retiring from Studio Ghibli, the animation powerhouse he co-founded. He would, he claimed, no longer make feature films. Citing long hours and his advancing age (he was 72 at the time), Miyazaki had teased retirement multiple times over the course of his fifty-plus years in the film industry, but since 2013, he’s stayed largely true to his word, despite rumblings to the contrary from his peers.

So how has Miyazaki been spending his days, lately? It turns out, he’s making a park. But unlike Walt Disney, to whom Miyazaki is often compared, his won’t be a corporate branded theme park, full of food courts and gift shops. Instead, Miyazaki’s park will be a serene nature preserve, created specifically to encourage children to explore and experience the natural world.

image via (cc) flickr user t_p_s

The park is slated to open in 2018, and will be situated on the remote island of Kume, reports Japan’s Kyodo News. There, the local town has donated ten thousand square meters of pristine forest, within which will be built accommodations for around thirty people. As much of Miyazaki’s work deals with the interplay between humans (often children) and nature–either directly, as in Princess Mononoke, or indirectly, as in Spirited Away–the idea that the famed animator would put his considerable imagination and resources toward transferring that same dynamic into the real world is understandable.

Construction on the park is slated to begin in the Spring of 2016. Miyazaki has reportedly dedicated around $2.5 million dollars of his own money, and has, reports Kyodo, committed to using local resources and labor to make his dream a reality.

[via paper, cover image via (cc) flickr user worldchaos]

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