"Hi, how's everyone? I'm going to teach you how to draw Totoro, okay?" says a cheery Toshio Suzuki, a producer of Studio Ghibli, as he deftly draws one of the most beloved anime characters in the world.
The YouTube lesson is part of a project by his hometown Nagoya to keep schoolchildren entertained while stuck at home during the state of emergency in Japan amid the coronavirus epidemic.
With quick strokes in a black ink brush pen, Suzuki illustrates the woodland spirit in under a minute, at one point flipping his paper to show the viewer the outline of Totoro's rotund body and perky ears.
"This is where it gets important: draw the eyes far apart," emphasizes the former president of the studio, which had produced the movie "My Neighbor Totoro" in 1988, a story about two girls who befriend magical forest creatures.
"This is something you can do at home. Everyone, please draw pictures," he says.
[Nagoya City Education Board's Education Center]
The whimsical Totoro, who looks like a combination of a fat raccoon and a cat, became a cult icon after the movie premiered in Japan in 1988, then became a world hit, with the latest showing in China in 2018.
Totoro grew from the imagination of Hayao Miyazaki, whose other popular films Studio Ghibli had produced including "Spirited Away," "Princess Mononoke, and "Kiki's Delivery Service."
More than 90 percent of schools in Japan had been closed by late April, under a state of emergency declared by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month and then extended through the end of May.
The government most recently offered local education boards the option of reopening for some grades.
Many public and private facilities remain closed, limiting children's outings.
Suzuki's online video is one among others from celebrities, such as movie stars and baseball players associated with the city, contributed to Nagoya City Education Center for schoolchildren.