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'Totoro' creator Hayao Miayazaki to build a 'nature park' for children

The Studio Ghibli animation giant has announced plans to build an interactive park where children can enjoy nature.

Totoro's idyllic forest nest, "My Neighbour Totoro." Studio Ghibli

One of filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki's passions is nature. It's a recurring major theme in his films. "Princess Mononoke", "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind", "Laputa: Castle in the Sky", "My Neighbour Totoro", "Ponyo" and "Spirited Away" all incorporate nature in some way.

It should come as no surprise that he believes spending time in and with nature is good for everyone, nor that he wants to foster a love of nature in children.

He has announced that he will be building a nature park for children on land in the Zendo Forest Park on Kume Island in the Okinawa Prefecture to the southeast of the Japan mainland. Covering 10,000 square metres (12,000 square yards), the park will encourage children "to enjoy nature through their five senses," Kyodo News reports.

Details on what will be included in the park are light. It may not include anything related to Studio Ghibli, since Miyazaki is funding the ¥300 million (around $2.5 million) project personally, but the plans do include a two-storey, 1,000-square-metre (1,200-square-yeard) building made of reinforced concrete designed to accommodate 30 people.

Construction is due to start in April 2016, and the park will open sometime in 2018. Miyazaki will donate it to the nearby town of Kumejima, where he also supported a town project to welcome people affected by the Fukushima Disaster in 2011. The park will be called "Forest Home of the Wind."

You can see a drawing of the park's location and layout on the Facebook page of Kume Creation.