Ghibli Park, just outside the Japanese city of Nagoya, is a magnet for fans of the strange and often surreal world of the Studio Ghibli series of animated films.
But not everyone who visits the cartoon-themed attraction in Japan’s Aichi prefecture has the purest intentions. Managers have been forced to crack down on guests who take “ inappropriate” photos with statues of characters from the beloved films.
The crackdown was triggered by a series of photos posted to social media showing men pretending to grope statues of female characters.
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One photo featured a park visitor taking upskirt photos of the 12-year-old main character from 2014 film When Marnie Was There, and another standing behind a model of Teru, the heroine from the film Tales From Earthsea and cupping its breasts with his hands.
Another showed someone grabbing the Marnie character with his hands around her neck and mouth, as if abducting her.
One outraged Studio Ghibli fan, after seeing the image online, complained to the park’s management team, but a representative from the Ghibli Park Public Relations Office declined to comment on the matter.
In response to enquiries from news site Unseen Japan, a park representative said that they had no official policy on the inappropriate photographs, but that in the future staff “may perhaps speak to” visitors displaying similar behaviour.
They added that different people have different ideas about what constitutes sexual abuse.
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In the park’s rules, it states: ”Photography is prohibited except for some cases. In addition, it is prohibited to shoot for commercial purposes.”
The park is sited in Aichi Prefecture, where state governor Hideaki Ōmura told reporters: “Frankly speaking, posting photos like that on social media is very inappropriate. From adults to children, people go to Ghibli Park to enter the Ghibli world and enjoy themselves.
“Clearly this action disturbed many people,” he added, saying that he had read told park managers that “they need to firmly stop such actions once spotted and confirmed.”
Referring to the recent wave of so-called “sushi terrorism” where vandals lick plates and touch food with dirty hands in the country’s iconic sushi bars, Mr Omura added: “It is extremely malicious, just like the inappropriate behaviour at conveyor belt sushi restaurants".
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