Ghibli Park has opened, and there have been reports of seeing Hayao Miyazaki himself strolling around the place like a regular person. Take a look at this news clip.
Actor Takeshi Tsuruno also shared this image with Miyzaki.
— つるの剛士 (@takeshi_tsuruno) November 1, 2022
But here’s the thing: that’s not Miyazaki. That’s Izumi Pao, who has been a Miyazaki impersonator for fifteen years. Though the two men look very similar from a distance (and still fairly similar up close), you can see that Pao has done things to look more like Miyazaki. The eyebrows and beard, for example, look fake. His expression is exaggerated, as he is often photographed with something of a frowning face.
Here he poses around the park, including on benches and in front of the Grand Warehouse. He’s not being mobbed in any of these photos, so maybe enough people recognize him as the impersonator who’s been around for more than a decade.
— いずみ包（ぽお） (@poizm) November 1, 2022
While some people might be disappointed that they’re not actually seeing the one and only Hayao Miyazaki walking around his park, other people are really in awe of the impersonator. SoraNews24 translated some of the online responses to the fake Miyazaki:
“It might not look exactly like him up close, but when he walked by on the news report I really thought it was him!”
“It’s the next best thing to seeing Miyazaki at the park!”
“He looks soooo similar!”
“The outfit is spot-on!”
“Even the way he walks is just like him!”
“It’s amazing how similar they look, especially from a distance.”
“It’s Miyazaki’s doppelgänger!”
If you’re ever able to visit Ghibli Park and you see a man who looks like Hayao Miyazaki there, you might have to take a closer look to see if it’s really him!
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.