The Travelling Fine Art Photographer

A day of Totoro secrets in Japan

There’s no shortage of Ghibli mania in Tokyo. The main Studio Ghibli attraction in Japan is of-course the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. Home of the magic cat bus! 

But did you know there’s a curious place a little off the beaten track; that makes you feel like you’ve stepped directly into My Neighbour Totoro…

The one and only Totoro cafe in Tokyo takes the medal for the most coveted cute snack in the whole of the city.  

A total Totoro triumph!

Shiro Hige’s Cream Puff Factory

Start your day in style with a trip to Shiro Hige’s Cream Puff Factory - The Home of Totoro Cream Puffs 

Head to Shimokitazawa. A wonderfully quirky shopping district. Only 15 minutes from Shinjuku Station to Setagaya-Daita Station on the Odakyu line - ¥157. From there it’s a 3-minute walk to the cafe. 

Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory

5 Chome-3-1Daita, Setagaya-ku, Tōkyō-to 155-0033, Japan

Open every day 10:30-7 except Tuesday

On a crisp spring afternoon amidst our shopping trip to Shimokitazawa. One-stop on our checklist couldn’t be missed: Shirohige’s Cream Puff Factory! The magical home of the Totoro Cream Puff. I needed one in my life immediately. 

The worlds cutest dessert

Shiro Hige’s is a special little cafe that makes cakes and patisserie in the likeness of My Neighbour Totoro. Along with other colourful Ghibli characters. It’s owned by the sister in law of Hayao Miyazaki himself. So is the only official baker of delicious pastries in Totoro’s likeness.

Unlike a lot of Tokyo’s character cafes, the little shop isn’t in the middle of a shopping centre crammed full of tourists. It’s out of the way of the main shopping street down a hidden alleyway. Which is all the more fun to wander in and out of the more suburban areas of Tokyo’s Westside trying to find it.

Outside the shop, a sign reads Shiro Hige’s. And a little pot featuring JiJi from Kili’s Delivery service beckons you inside. 

The moment you enter Shiro Hige’s Cream Puff Factory, you’ll feel almost as elated as Mei. Sneaking into Totoro’s hidden den and meeting the giant, friendly Totoro for the first time. 

Downstairs lies the cute little pastry shop. A cabinet full to the brim with peeking Totoro’s and ghibli inspired cookies. It offers cream puffs to go, along with various cute nik naks to remind you of your visit. 

Upstairs in the cafe, the magic begins. As you’re served the Totoro of your choice in the cosy little lounge or outside terrace. It’s hard to pick just one, as each is decoratively embellished with a unique little hat depending on the flavour. The flavours vary by season. We tried banana custard, chocolate, and strawberry cream. Nothing could be cuter than three little Totoro cream puffs standing in a row. It’s almost a shame to eat them. So do spend a few moments admiring them before digging into the luscious creamy centre. My favourite was the banana cream, and it was oishii (tasty.) What better way is there to appreciate the Ghibli mastery. Than by chopping its head off with a fork and eating his insides. 

The official website for Shiro Hige’s can be found HERE.

Totoro Forest

Open everyday 9-5

雑魚入-351 Kamiyamaguchi, Tokorozawa, Saitama 359-1153, Japan

Once you’ve had your fill of cream puff. It’s time to head out on an adventure to the Totoro Forest! (It doesn’t hurt to pack a few extra puffs for the journey.)

It’s a bit of a treck to reach the charming spot that inspired Miyazaki’s film, but the effort is worth it if you’re a big fan. The landscape also makes for a lovely walking trip. 

Take a hop, skip, train and a bus from Shinjuku to Seibukyujo-Mae Station in Saitama. Then it’s a leisurely 15-20 minute walk down a scenic path to the entrance of the forest. 

From there you enter a magical wonderland. Filled with Totoro memorabilia and the history of the land. The giant Totoro makes for a wonderful companion. Take a photo sitting next to the majestic wood sprite and his mini minions. Whilst staring out into the tranquil Japanese garden. The area has a unique tale and the residents are truly fond of this special little spot, but I won’t spoil the story! It’s all there to discover when you arrive. Take time to go for a short, or long hike around the woods and you’ll feel like you’re a part of Totoro’s magical journey. The handy map at the entrance marks all the walkways and interesting spots in the area. 

Know any other secret Ghibli spots around Japan? I’d love to hear them :)

B x

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