The Totoro Forest Project Art Exhibition In San Francisco

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Image: The Resting Place by Luc Desmarchelier (detail)

Yesterday, when I wrote about Satoyama, I was delighted to discover the Totoro Forest Project Art Exhibition in San Francisco. What a wonderful idea - animators, anime artists and designers who have been inspired by the film My Neighbor Totoro joined together to help preserve precious forest just 40 km (24 miles) north west of Tokyo: a fund raising exhibition/auction to support the national trust Totoro Forest Foundation that Oscar winning film maker Hayao Miyazaki has been helping over the years, featuring original art created by internationally acclaimed artists in the fields of animation, comic books, and illustration. A selection of the auction's artwork is featured as a special exhibition at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, until February 8, 2009. More images below the fold:

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Image: Totoro Tree Grower by Christian Ward (detail)

Many of the art works have beautiful stories and personal messages: Christian Ward notes that he wanted to "portray that notion, the bound between the two living things, with an image of Totoro growing both the forest and himself from the same pot."

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Image: Watashi no Totoro by Sho Murase (detail)

This image represents all the insipration in my work
Totoro has given me through all this years
Passing years represented with a child, continuing to the adulthood, growing as an artist

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Image: View from the Van by Lori Klocek (detail)

Lori Klocek from Canada fondly remembers camping trips as a child: "I loved staring out the back window at the forest speeding by, and picturing all the fantastic creatures (real and imagined) that were waving back at me."

And the auction actually made a big difference. The Totoro Forest National Fund was able to purchase important parts of the Sayama area forest, that needs protection to keep the biodiversity and the experience of a real forest alive. The foundation has successfully raised over 3 million dollars and has over 1500 members. The fund has been mainly used to buy the various parts of the land of the forest back from the city and its members have been involved with various nature preservation volunteer activities.

A lot of people were involved in this, and they were clearly overjoyed when Miyazaki sent a special greeting to thank them.

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Image: Thank You Card from Hiyao Miyazaki (detail)

"It is not just about one specific forest. Totoro Forest represents the spirit of our childhood."

-----Totoro Forest Committee

Toshiko Ando, a social sciences professor at Saitama University, has been with the trust since its inception in 1990 and is now the director. The first land trust activities were directed against building a cemetery in Sayama Forest, home to rare and culturally important plants and wildlife. "We have purchased six properties since 1991," Ando said via e-mail. Totaling 3.2 acres, the land cost $1.5 million, or 60 percent of the group's donations.

Ando is excited that the Sayama Forest, which has emerged in Japan as a symbol of the environmental movement, is getting international attention. "Yes, this is really first, amazing! international effort," his e-mail said to

More biodiversity:
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Agriculture Needs a Fundamental Rethink in the 21st Century
Agriculture Sustainability Metrics Need Work: Can You Help?
Nagoya To Host UN Biodiversity Conference In 2009, Facing Protests

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