Ah, Studio Ghibli—the animation studio that has captured the hearts of Gen Zs (and even of generations before us) with its enchanting worlds, heartfelt tales, and whimsical characters.
At some point, a lot of us wanted to escape to the quiet countryside of “My Neighbor Totoro,” tried—and miserably failed—to recreate those delectable but cursed dishes from “Spirited Away,” and dreamed of switching lives with San in “Princess Mononoke.” Some even made the entire Ghibli cinematic universe their personality. (“Some” is me.)
Now, if you haven’t gotten over your Ghibli fixation, and still secretly wonder how to be the long-lost sibling of Sophie Hatter, here’s some exciting news that might just make your day… or year.
The Ghibli gods—or in this case, the Ghibli Park management—have heard your prayers (somehow) and presented a couple of ways in which you can act as if your life is written by Hayao Miyazaki himself: one, as a visitor, or two, as an employee. Leaning toward the second option? Here’s how.
Introducing the Valley of Witches
While a big portion of the park is already operational, a few more areas are yet to be unveiled. One of which is the Valley of Witches inspired by “Howl’s Moving Castle.” It’s expected to finally open its doors to the public in March 2024. And guess what? They’re currently on the lookout for more than 100 individuals to fill various full-time and part-time roles:
- Operations staff, whose duties are mostly related to guiding visitors, cleaning and monitoring exhibits and demonstrations, etc.
- Merchandising staff, whose responsibilities include but aren’t limited to sales, customer service, and inventory management
- Food service staff, whose tasks are categorized into two—sales and customer service at food service facilities
“We’re excited to receive applications from those who are serious, sincere, and can find joy in working alongside their colleagues,” wrote Ghibli Park in its website.
Living your fantasies aside, what else is in it for you?
For operations and merchandising staff, the hourly wage is between ¥1,100 and ¥1,300, with stipulated transportation expenses and law-required social insurance provided. Full-time workers can anticipate a four-day work week, five days at max, while part-timers have the flexibility to work one/two days a week.
If you’re more of a food folk, Ghibli Park’s food service staff positions offer an hourly wage of ¥1,060. Regular employees can enjoy a monthly wage of ¥127,200 while part-timers who balance house tasks can expect ¥58,800.
Meanwhile, university students—who can only work on the weekends—can look forward to a monthly wage of ¥67,840. (These are merely approximate amounts calculated based on a four-week work month, though.)
Furthermore, the Valley of Witches also boasts a meat specialty store, and it has a separate ongoing recruitment process for kitchen staff. “You will be responsible for simple food preparation and selling drinks,” wrote the store.
It has an hourly wage of ¥1,300 for full-time staff and ¥1,100 for part-timers. Plus, you’ll get other benefits like transportation allowance, uniforms, social insurance coverage, paid leaves, and more.
Oh, and did we mention you would also get staff discounts on meat—which is *perfect* for some Ghibli-themed BBQ night?
Everybody can apply—whether you’re 20 or 50
Yup, Ghibli Park is rolling out the red carpet for all. Whether you’re a broke and struggling student, a frustrated culinary connoisseur, an “extra income” hunter, or literally anyone else in between, the park beckons you with open arms.
Don’t believe us? The theme park has directly written this in its job posting: “University students, part-timers, housewives, house husbands, second job seekers, everyone is welcome.”
“No specific educational requirements,” “no experience required,” and “gaps in work history are acceptable” were also specified in the description.
For more information, you may visit the park’s website. Everything is written in Japanese there—but the auto-generated translation provided by Google Translate is pretty accurate. (I confirmed this with my Japanese friend.)
Should you want to visit, book a reservation
We get it, working at the park sounds like the dream job. For those who just want to bask in the magic of Ghibli without clocking in, though, it’s currently accepting reservations for November 2023 to February 2024 visits. To date, it has three operational areas:
- Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse, which includes screening rooms for the 10 animated shorts previously shown at Ghibli Museum, three special exhibitions, shops, and cafés
- Hill of Youth, which houses the World Emporium of “Whisper of the Heart,” the Cat Bureau of “The Cat Returns,” and the Elevator Tower, a late 19th century sci-fi architecture-inspired attraction reminiscent of “Castle in the Sky” and “Howl’s Moving Castle”
- Dondoko Forest, where you can be transported into the world of “My Neighbor Totoro” through Satsuki and Mei’s house; Dondoko-do may also be visited (but only by children age 12 and below)
In November, another area will open. It’s called the Mononoke Village—and it was inspired by the mountain village landscape in “Princess Mononoke.” Here, you can try making local specialty Gohei-mochi (traditional Aichi rice cakes) and explore the Lord Okkoto slide and Demon Spirit structure.
P.S. Just to make sure you won’t get lost upon arrival, Ghibli Park is nestled within the Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park—also known as Moricoro Park—which is a few hours away from Tokyo.
Photo from Studio Ghibli via Ghibli Park’s official website