HIGASHI-CHICHIBU, Saitama Prefecture--As if by the magic of anime, a series of beloved characters of Studio Ghibli Inc., including Totoro, Kaonashi (No-Face) and witch Kiki, have mysteriously appeared on a mossy wall along a mountain road here.
The artwork has drawn attention on the Internet and led to an increasing number of visitors.
Who drew those characters is unknown.
The popular animation film characters of famed director Hayao Miyazaki were done by someone scraping away green moss that grew on the concrete. They are spread out for hundreds of meters along the wall.
The moss art images became popular on social networking sites and a hot topic for discussion around late December. One of the related posts was retweeted almost 40,000 times as of Dec. 31.
Yoshitaka Komiya, 77, who runs a nearby restaurant, reported seeing someone in black clothing and a hood facing the wall and doing something when he was driving by the area one evening in November.
After that, Komiya saw an increased number of works on the wall.
The images can be seen along the prefectural road of Kumagaya-Ogawa-Chichibu, which connects Higashi-Chichibu and Chichibu, in the prefecture. Visitors should take the train on the Tobu-Tojo Line to Ogawamachi Station and board a bus there for a 40-minute ride to the site. A few-minute walk from the Shiroishi-shako bus stop will lead to the spot.
The area in the Sadamine mountain pass in the Shiroishi district draws many motorbike and bicycle riders, according to the department of industry and construction at the Higashi-Chichibu village office.
It also draws numerous fans of the popular street-racing "Initial D" manga, because one of the mountain racing courses is set there.
Officials of the village exhort visitors to be careful when driving as the impromptu artworks are situated along a road with traffic.
"If the artwork causes problems to those living nearby, there is a possibility that they could be removed," said an official of a prefectural organization in charge of construction and maintenance.