Totoro Musubi



When I was little, I watched all the cartoons written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. My Neighbor Totoro was my favorite. When I saw the DVD of My Neighbor Totoro in Costco, I felt nostalgic about my childhood. The story is about two little girls who move to the country with their dad so they can be closer to their mom, who is recovering at a nearby hospital. They discover magical creatures in their backyard forest and go on several adventures with a creature named Totoro. I shared this DVD with Amber, and she became a super-big fan of Totoro. Well, who would not like him? He is fluffy, fun, and cuddly.


I love the movie so much that I created a recipe around it, inspired by a delicious Japanese snack food called musubi. The first time we discovered musubi was in Southern California during a Disneyland trip. On the last day of our trip, we were tired of burgers, pizzas, and pasta. We had the urge for some delicious Asian food. We walked outside the park and discovered a little restaurant, where I ordered a sushi platter, and musubi was one of them. Amber took a bite and loved it! Then we noticed that the sushi looked like our beloved character Tototo.


While in quarantine, we have had so much time to play with food since we spend most of our time at home. “Why don’t we make a Totoro musubi?” I asked. “Yesssssssss!” Amber said. So here we are, Totoro musubi, from our kitchen to yours. We hope you will like it!

Totoro Musubi

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time20 mins
AuthorMelissa Lee


  • Saucepan
  • Non-stick pan
  • Whisk
  • Spatula
  • Musubi mold
  • Rice cooker
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Toothpick


Teriyaki Sauce

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Sake

Totoro Sushi

  • 1 can spam sliced into 8 even slices
  • 2 cups cooked sushi rice
  • White cheese – cut into Totoro tummies and eyeballs
  • Seaweed nori – cut into eyeballs, noses, whiskers, and tummy triangles


To cook the Spam

  • In a saucepan, combine soy sauce, sugar, and sake. Bring to a boil and set it aside.
  • Fry Spam on each side over medium heat until slightly crispy. Add the teriyaki sauce and fry until both sides of the Spam gets a brown color due to the Maillard reaction.

To assemble the sushi

  • Cut cheese and seaweed.
  • Shape your rice using a musubi mold or your hands.
  • Top the rice with the cooked Spam and Totoro face and tummy.


Toothpicks come in handy when you are adding cut seaweed to Totoro’s faces. Those tiny cut seaweeds can stick to your hands.

Did you make this recipe?


Tag @cookingbeautifullee on Instagram and hashtag it #cookedbeautifullee.

Melissa Lee

Melissa Lee

Chief Entertainment Officer

Melissa is 100% MIT (Made in Taiwan), where she worked as a food writer. She’s also worked alongside renowned chefs like Ming Tsai and Joanne Chang, honing her craft and gathering stories along the way. Part story-teller, part educator, and part food lover, Melissa brings a special blend of experience, skill, and enthusiasm to her work. She blends her Asian background, her new home of New England, and love of food and culture to bring joy, optimism, and inspiration to food lovers and fun-seekers everywhere.

What sparked your passion for the industry?
The desire to make things by hand. The joy of sharing delicious, hearty food with students. The opportunity for people to get connected via cooking and baking. When a child smiled broadly and told me it’s the best scone he has ever made and eaten, it really made my day!

In your opinion, what’s the most important course?
Well, I usually take a peek at the wine list first. I like tapas style, so the course doesn’t really matter. Cheese and charcuterie are always a good place to start. And since I’m a pastry chef, there is always room for dessert!

Bill Gates is picking up your tab, where would you go?
Noma, Copenhagen.

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