Totoro no Furusato – Sept. 6th @ Pixar in Emeryville, CA

The world’s top film animators, comic book artists and illustrators have come together to create original works of art inspired by the iconic animated film MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO for an auction to benefit the Totoro No Furusato (Totoro’s Homeland) National Fund — also known as the Totoro Forest Fund.

The organization is dedicated to preserving Sayama Forest, a large park outside Tokyo that inspired the beloved film by respected Japanese movie director Hayao Miyazaki. The Totoro Forest Project Charity Auction ( will be held Saturday, September 6, at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, California.

The Sayama Forest, which inspired the landscape of 1988’s MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, occupies nearly 15 square miles of cultivated forest, rice paddy fields, wetlands and grassland amidst an encroaching sea of urban development. The area has been the subject of preservation efforts since the 1970s, but because land is at such a premium in the Tokyo area, it is under constant threat of development. The Totoro No Furusato National Fund was established in 1990 following the success of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO and the attention the film drew to the Sayama Forest.

“Professor Tashihiko Ando, chairman of the Totoro No Furusato National Fund, has stated that Hayao Miyazaki has described MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO as a movie that portrayed a paradise for children,” said Dice Tsutsumi, art director at Pixar Animation Studios and one of the organizers of the Totoro Forest Project Charity Auction. “The Sayama Forest is the embodiment of that paradise. The auction is a wonderful opportunity for artists to help preserve this historic forest for future generations of children, and pay tribute to Miyazaki-san and the film that has been so inspirational to their art.”

More than 200 artists from around the world have created nearly 210 original paintings, illustrations and sculptures for the Totoro Forest Project Charity Auction. A high quality book featuring all the works of art will be available for purchase at the event. Additionally, a selection of the artwork will be featured in a special exhibition September 20, 2008 to February 8, 2009 at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco.

Pixar artists Dice Tsutsumi, Enrico Casarosa and Ronnie Del Carmen, and Yukino Pang of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, lead the Totoro Forest Project Charity Auction organizing committee.

For more information about the Totoro No Furusato National Fund and the Totoro Forest Project Charity Auction, visit or email

Crazy “house insects” in Japan

I asked Hitomi about these after reading this article on Stars & Stripes website. She said she’s never heard of them, nor seen them before.  However, they’re apparenlty pretty common in parts of Japan.  The article describes the げじげじ as:

Geji GejiBig. Quick-moving. More than 10 pairs of legs … having just one of these endearing qualities is usually enough to make an insect unwelcome, let alone all of the above, says Hideomi Kakimoto, a Yokosuka base environmental engineer.

But “geji,” or household centipedes, are known as “good bugs” in Japan, as their ninja-like maneuvering (and, cringe, their ability to jump) allows them to hunt other household pests like cockroaches and clothing moths.

Wikipedia says that geji are even sold in Japanese pet stores.

“They do look scary,” Kakimoto said. “But they are good bugs.”

Another “good bug” is the ashi daka gumo, which is a huge spider.

Frightening in size and speed, these are excellent cockroach killers and are harmless to humans, Kakimoto said. The spiders don’t even make a mess, as they don’t build webs, relying instead on high-speed chases to snag their prey.

Our daughter Rei loves insects.  She has no problem having an African millipede crawl right up her arm.  But personally I’d probably step on either one of these the second I spotted one in my house.

Japan Cuts Film Festival – Motomichi Nakamura

Artist, designer and animator Motomichi Nakamura was recently commissioned to create a 30 second animation to promote the “Japan Cuts Film Festival”.  This film festival is held annualy in New York by the Japan Society.  Sadly it’s already passed this year, but you can still visit their website and read about the films that were screened and about the Audience Award Winner “Near Equal Kusama Yayoi:  I Adore Myself”.

Here is Motomichi’s animation for the festival.