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Image: Monet Technologies
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Ghibli Park Catbus picks up passengers for first time, with a very special number plate

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By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

Back in 1988, Studio Ghibli’s lauded anime movie "My Neighbour Totoro" made its debut, and in the roughly 35 years since, children and adults everywhere have been dreaming of riding the giant Catbus from the film.

It’s a dream that Goro Miyazaki, son of the movie’s director Hayao Miyazaki, was well aware of when he was first put in charge of constructing Ghibli Park in Aichi Prefecture back in 2017, and in true Ghibli fashion he delivered, teaming up with Toyota and Monet Technologies to create an actual Catbus to ferry visitors around the site.

Just over a year since the joint project was announced, we’re now approaching the 16 March date when the Catbuses will actually begin zooming around the park. However, a special press preview day has given us all an early look at them in action, and they’re even more adorable than we imagined.

As the above video shows, there are five Catbuses on site, and each one is equipped with two rows of seats behind the driver, with capacity for six passengers on soft, fur-like seating. The cute design details extend to the number plate, “と10-6“, with “と” being the hiragana character for “to“, and “10“(to) and “six” (roku) being read as to and ro in Japanese, giving us “Totoro."

Above the numbers is the word “長久手” (Nagakute), which is the name of the city where Ghibli Park is located, only with the character 久 appearing upside down, in line with the childlike mood of the film.

On the front is another charmingly intentional mishap, with the “ク” (“ku”) for “ジブリパーク” (“Ghibli Park”) on the route indicator written upside down.

Screenshot-2024-02-28-at-12.21.34.png

In case you’re wondering, yes, those bright eyes do light up when the sun isn’t shining strongly enough, as do the red mouse eyes, and on rainy days, shades come down on either side of the vehicle to protect everyone on board.

▼ The rain shades are adorned with the silhouette of Totoro with its iconic umbrella, as seen in this cued-up video below.

The “APM Nekobus” as it’s officially known — nekobus is the name for “Catbus” in Japanese — was developed by Toyota Motor Corporation, based on the APM (“Accessible People Mover”) electric vehicle used to transport athletes around the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games venue.

The new design features were carefully crafted through consultation between the three parties involved in the project, with special attention given to details such as the eyes, which look like they’re facing straight ahead, but are actually mounted on slight angles to the left and right to give them just the right rounded look.

▼ Take a closer look at all the design details here.

As an “Accessible People Mover”, the Catbuses are considerate of seniors, people with disabilities, pregnant women and those with infants.

The first row of seats folds away and a slope can be installed in 10 seconds to make riding the bus easy for anyone who wants to ride it.

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With a top speed of 19 kilometers per hour, the five new Catbuses will run along the 1.9-kilometer passage connecting Mononoke Village and Dondoko Forest, with the ride taking around ten minutes each way.

Tickets are required to board the Catbus, priced at 1,000 yen for adults and 500 yen for children (4 years old to elementary school students) for a one-way trip. Tickets must be purchased in advance at one of the ticket machines located near the bus stop before boarding, and buses are scheduled to run from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on weekdays and 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on weekends and public holidays.

Everyone who rides the bus will receive a special memento with an illustration of the Catbus drawn by Hayao Miyazaki on the front, in a design created by producer and Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki, and a map of the park, drawn by Goro Miyazaki, on the back.

Having seen just how gorgeous the Catbuses are in action, we can’t wait to ride them when they go into operation on March 16, which is perfectly timed for the grand unveiling of the park’s "Howl’s Moving Castle" and "Kiki’s Delivery Service"-themed Valley of Witches area, scheduled to open on the same day.

Source: Monet Technologies

Images: Monet Technologies 

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Ghibli Park unveils new shop and restaurants in Witch’s Valley area, and yes — there’s a bakery!

-- Studio Ghibli’s Totoro and the Catbus forever preserved together in new statue 【Pics & Video】

-- Real-world Totoro Catbus now has official debut date at Ghibli theme park

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

1 Comment
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But can I buy one to use on the streets of London?

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