Miyazaki Hayao's fantasy island

Don Brown the8thsamurai
Sun Nov 23 09:00:37 EST 2003

There's been a lot of confusion lately surrounding a proposed development 
in Hakata Bay that aims to create an island enclave based on concepts put 
forward by Japanese animation legend Miyazaki Hayao.
A manmade island in Hakata Bay is being developed by Fukuoka City and 
private corporations, aiming for urban development where ?children can be 
brought up free from all care.? Amidst an ongoing economic slump where 
prospects for contined land subdivision are uncertain, the city is trying 
to use brand power with this plan that it has been working on for two and a 
half years. The wholesome idyll was originally scheduled to become a 
reality as soon as late 2005.
Miyazaki?s vision, which he conceived while observing today?s children 
who he sees to be lacking individuality, is contained in an illustrated 
collection of conversations between Miyazaki and analyst Yoro Takeshi 
called ?Mushi-me to Ani-me? (published by Tokuma Shoten). First of all, 
you build a nursery school where concrete and plastic is hidden from view 
in the most desireable location; there it will be possible to come in 
contact with trees and soil, water and fire, and living creatures. At the 
center of the town will be fields, and the houses will have no fences. 
Miyazaki was said to have conceived these images with their realization on 
this artificial island in mind.
Miyazaki?s 13 pages of illustrations outling his vision for an ideal 
environment in which to bring up children were provided to Fukuoka City, 
who in turn presented them publicly on November 14th. However, Miyazaki 
later sent a letter to Fukuoka mayor Yamazaki Kotaro on the 20th requesting 
that there be no further use of his name and sketches in association with 
the project, in response to media reports that suggested he is directly 
involved with it. On the same day, the same letter was faxed to both the 
mayor?s office and the press.
?My job is being an animated film director, and I have neither the 
ability, nor the energy, nor the drive, nor the time to become involved in 
residential development,? wrote Miyazaki in his letter. ?Reports have 
used terms like ?Miyazaki Ghibli Island,? and have been written as if I 
am directly associated with the artificial island project.? He stated that 
a residential development that he has no part in but is being carried out 
using his name and sketches will only result in disappointment and damage, 
and that this is something he cannot tolerate. Studio Ghibli?s public 
relations division have also said they will be happy to discuss the issue 
directly with Fukuoka City if necessary. 
Miyazaki?s younger brother and agent Shiro (57) said that _[Hayao] was 
under the assumption that he was just providing sketches. He was concerned 
that there might be wrongful assumptions that he was directly involved in 
the development project. Looking at the news, he decided that promises 
weren?t being honored.?
There?s no way to get across concepts of the city without sketches, so I 
think it?s going to be difficult to realize this project. There some 
miscommunication here, so I?m going to talk about this directly with the 
The city was using Miyazaki?s concepts as its ?trump card? in the entire 
artificial island scheme, named the ?Teriha (Evergreen) Project? after 
images of evergreen forests that have appeared in Miyazaki?s works such as 
?Princess Mononoke.? An office for the project?s promotion team was set 
up on the 14th of this month. The public housing corporation and Hakata-wan 
Kaihatsu were seeking proposals from the private sector for residential 
development along the lines of Miyazaki?s concepts by the end of November.
Miyazaki?s concepts were to be used for a residential zone in the 
southeast part of the island, which will be zoned as part of Kashihama in 
the city?s Higashi district.  The area is located near what will become 
the first station on a planned subway line (temporary name: Island-sen). 
The city?s public housing corporation bought around 12 hectares here 
between 2002 and 2003, and development will take place here in addition to 
6-7 hectares that Hakata-wan Kaihatsu had planned to develop themselves.  
In the initial phases of the development, a plan existed to build 2,600 
residences within the Higashi district, including apartment complexes with 
a total of 2,500 units and 100 detached dwellings, but it is expected that 
this will be decreased by 10-20% in order to create a less inhibited 
environment. There is concern regarding the rise in the purchase price of 
these residences (estimated at 25,000,000-26,000,000 yen) due to the 
increased construction costs, but the city's public housing corporation has 
expressed its confidence in the project by claiming that "there will be 
sufficient demand even if prices exceed the going market rate as long as we 
make this an attractive urban development."


Don Brown

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