Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Totoro Forest Project (in Honor of Earth Day)

Dug by Khang Le
Happy Earth Day!
As a late-in-the-day tribute honor to Planet Earth I thought I'd highlight a project inspired by a film, inspired by a forest. My Neighbor Totoro is a film I now see as synonymous with trees and forest wonders and is one of those films all children, in particular, should see regularly from about age four or five. It's a wonderful, beautiful, modern folk tale by Hayao Miyazaki about a little family (two young sisters in particular) and has fairy tale connections as well (more about that another time).
Dream by Paul Topolos

If you know Miyazaki's work, you know he is passionate about preserving childhood joy and the future of the planet. Ponyo was another fairy tale (with The Little Mermaid roots) that looked at the state of our oceans. My Neighbor Totoro looks at the importance of nature and the forest in our lives and healing. That's not to say they're focused on the ecological issues though. These films are delightful tales in and of themselves but they're told within the framework of folklore, wonder and imagination.
Totoro No by Richard Vander Wende

The Totoro Forest Project came about quite a few years ago now, in 2008, as part of an effort to help preserve a special stretch of natural forest.
The Resting Place by Luc Desmarchelier

In tribute to Miyazaki and to support this cause, artists from all over the globe created pieces to be auctioned to raise money for the forest's preservation.
When I Whisper Totoro's Name by Manuel Arenas

From the official site:
A fund raising exhibition/auction to support the national trust Totoro Forest Foundation that Oscar winning film maker Hayao Miyazaki has been helping over the years, featuring original art created by internationally acclaimed artists in the fields of animation, comic books, and illustration. 
Untitled by Rebecca Dautremer
Hayao Miyazaki has been actively supporting the preservation effort of Sayama Forest for more than ten years. This 8750 acre park in the outskirts of Tokyo is also known as Totoro Forest. It's in these woods in fact that the concept for the film "My Neighbor Totoro" was born. 
Untitled by Andrea Blasich
In the past few decades, the forest has been subject to urban development. Only continued support to the Totoro Trust Fund can help preserve this much needed island of green in the midst of Tokyo's urban sprawl. We intend to donate the entire proceeds of the project to this worthy cause. 
Tree Spirit with Bike by Scott Campbell
This event can also be a symbolic gesture, sending a strong message to the world in terms of environmental and social awareness.  Imagine artists from all over the world coming together to donate artwork to help conserve a forest they have never seen.
Kappa no Tabi - The Kappa Journey by Enrico Casarosa
You can find out more about the project HERE.
Untitled by Jillian Tamaki

In this post you can see a small (yes small!) selection of the pieces created and made available for purchase. Here are some more:
Tilden Totoro by Emanuela Cozzi

The Tree Man by Paul Conrad

The Keepers by Jony Chandra

Rescue by Noah Klocek

Intruder by Steve Pilcher

Guardian of Autumn by Eric Orchard

A Gift by Jackson Sze

Alive by Enrique Fernandez

Gatherer by James Jean

Come Out and Play by Charles Vess

I just love it when artists come together to help a cause! There was a limited print run of the artworks made for the auction, the cover of which you can see below. I know they've been looking into getting a reprint but apparently it's not a straightforward thing to do, so if you see one, don't let it disappear... (what an interesting parallel that makes!).


  1. I love My Neighbour Totoro, but had never heard of this project before. It's so wonderful, though! Creative communities have so much power, and it's great to see that being used for such a good cause.