Tourists flock to 1,000-year-old cedar tree resembling Studio Ghibli's Totoro


Local and foreign tourists are reportedly flocking to a rural Japanese village to see a cedar tree that looks like Totoro from the Studio Ghibli film “My Neighbor Totoro.”

Key points:

  • The "Kosugi no Osugi" cedar tree, located in the town of Sakegawa in Yamagata Prefecture, is over 1,000 years old.

  • The tree first gained popularity after appearing in Japan Railways Group posters and TV programs over 30 years ago.

  • It has attracted a new wave of tourists following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

The details:

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  • The “Kosugi no Osugi” (“The Great Cedar of Kosugi”) cedar tree, known to locals as a tree of matchmaking and fertility, stands 20 meters (65.6 feet) tall with a trunk circumference of 6.3 meters (20.7 feet).

  • Due to its resemblance to the character Totoro from “My Neighbor Totoro,” the tree also became known as the “Totoro Tree.”

  • After the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, it has seen an influx of both local and foreign tourists. More than 800 came to visit between May 3 and May 7 alone last year.

  • Temporary parking lots have been taken to accommodate the increasing tourists. One resident reportedly started selling drinks from a kitchen car, creating a social space for visitors.

  • Despite requests for trimming to maintain its appearance, the local government maintains that the tree is considered sacred, particularly in the indigenous Shinto religion.


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