Totoro Tattoo Meaning, Design & Ideas

The cult classic film called My Neighbor Totoro starred a funny little forest creature that happens to be the topic of this tattoo article. The Totoro tattoo is a tattoo had by fans of the film which happened to be released in 1988.

The show, My Neighbor Totoro, was produced by Studio Ghibli and directed by a man named Hayao Miyazak. The voices on the show included Chika Sakamoto, Noriko Hidaka and Hitoshi Takagi.

This film won a few awards including the Animage Anime Grand Prix, the Kinema Junpo Award for Best Film in 1988 and the Mainichi Film Award.

The Film didn’t make it to the United States until 1993 when it was released in theaters. This is when the show amassed its cult following worldwide. It’s been ranked as one of the top films worldwide and even higher in ranking in terms of anime films.

The story talks about post war Japan and two sisters that meet and have interactions with a forest spirit that happens to live in the biggest camphor tree in their small village. Totoro looks almost cat-like with long whiskers and pointy ears. He is grey in color and has arrows on his chest pointing upwards. Totoro is cutes and fluffy spirit and is the choice for a lot of tattoos. The rising popularity of this film led people to getting the Totoro tattoo almost 30 years after the U.S. release.

In this article we’re going to explain more about Totoro and the different variations of the Totoro tattoo that people are getting. We’ll talk about the symbolism of the Totoro tattoo based on what others have told us.

My Neighbor Totoro Plot

The show takes place in Japan in the year 1958. A family moves to be closer to their mother who is ill and in the hospital. The family members include a university professor named Tatsuo Kusakabe and his daughters named Satsuki and Mei. They move into an old house that happened to be inhabited by suswatari which are small, dust-like creatures. As soon as the kids get comfortable with their new living situation, the suswatari leave to find another home to inhabit.

One day Mei, the youngest, is outside playing when she notices two ears in the grass that look like a rabbit. She follows the little ears bouncing to the grass to a hollow camphor tree. This is where she sees Totoro for the first time. Totoro is a bigger version of the suswatari she had been seeing in the house. The name Totoro comes from the sound the creature makes in a greeting. Mei takes this as sounding like ‘Totoro’. Mei really wants her dad and sister to see the tree but try as she might, it is nowhere to be found. Her dad tells her that Totoro will show himself when he is ready.

Their mother, Yasuko, was supposed to come home to visit but there was a setback in her treatment. When Mei was told about this, it sparked an argument between the two sisters and Mei left home to go to the hospital to see her mom.

Satsuki was worried about Mei, so she set off to find her. When she doesn’t have any luck, she sets off to see if Totoro can help her. He is happy to help and has the Catbus (A cat-like bus) take them away to find Mei. They end up finding the lost Mei and scoot away to the hospital to see their mom. They end up sitting in a tree looking through the window to see their parents talking. The overhear the parents talking and the reason their mother is being held in the hospital is because of a minor cold. They end up returning home on the Catbus.

The Legacy

The legacy of Totoro is a big one. The story sparked Hayao Miyazaki’s career and made Totoro one of the most well-known cartoon character ever. In fact, Totoro is to Japanese children as Winnie the Pooh is to kids in the West. The Independent says Totoro is one of the best cartoon characters ever and the Financial Times said that Totoro is far more famous than Mickey Mouse could ever be.

These statements and cameos that Totoro makes since the inception of the character show just how popular this character is. It also makes it no surprise that the Totoro tattoo is very popular and probably the most popular Japanese anime character there has ever been.

Totoro Tattoo Meaning

Some describe this tattoo as having different meaning for men and women. As with any tattoo, the meaning is decided by the person wearing it. The obvious meaning of the Totoro tattoo is to give the person with the tattoo a sense of nostalgia.

We’ve also gathered that the Totoro Tattoo symbolizes sincerity, spontaneity, belief in miracles, optimism and an obvious interest in Japanese anime. Because of the popularity of this character for children, the Totoro tattoo is going to hold a great deal of meaning for the people wearing the tattoo so if it takes a tattoo to remind you of the fun and spontaneity in life, then it is worth it.

Tattoo Examples

You can get creative with this tattoo, but you will mostly see Totoro by himself in these tattoos. We’ve seen Totoro tattoos including the suswatari that led Mei to the tree. We also see Totoro tattooed holding the umbrella that Satsuki gave Totoro at the bus stop. This image is certainly recognizable, so you can do a lot of creative things with this tattoo and people will still know what it is.

We hope that by reading this you have a better understanding about the character named Totoro. This Japanese legend has sparked the imagination of children for decades and we hope by getting the Totoro tattoo, you will remember some of those carefree times as a child.

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