The director of this movie is Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki is a well-known Japanese director throughout the world. He is best known for this film Spirited Away.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary Anime is the process of photographing drawings or objects a frame at a time; by changing a drawing or moving an object slightly before each frame is taken, the illusion of motion is realized. To bring something to life.
Some examples of Anime features
- Colorful graphics
- Vibrant characters
- Fantastic themes
Where is this film set?
Spirited away is set in Japan in a deserted theme park and a bath house for spirts. In this movie, it is set in two different worlds. A modern-day Japan where Chihiro and get family live and there is a parallel mysterious land where weird and wonderful creatures and spirits lurk.
What is the significance of the bath house in Japanese culture and in this movie?
- Bathhouses are part of Japanese tradition
- Customers pay for entry into bathhouses
- Is seen as a way of not only washing, but being able to relax and be sociable with other guests
- In modern Japan, bathhouses are used for infrequently than they were in the past. The bathhouse represents traditional Japan. Because it is set in an abandoned theme park this might suggest Japans abandonment of Japanese bathhouses hence the Japanese tradition.
- The bathhouse in this story is significant to Chihrio’s journey as this is where she learns more about her culture and also her responsibilities and independence.
Because Spirited Away is written and set in Japan, this at times can be confusing to someone who is not familiar with the Japanese culture. This is why I decided to view and talk about Spirted away. So I could both discuss Japanese culture but also include a movie that uses many visuals of the Japanese culture. Hopefully this blog post will have you understanding Japanese culture more and maybe you can go watch spirited away after reading this post and understand what is going on in this movie.
Spirit Realm and Shinto
In Japan for thousands of years people have believed that gods and spirts live all around them in the rivers the trees and houses.
- Shinto is the original religion of Japan
- It is centered on the belief that all physical entities have living souls called kami
- Kami can manifest in multiple forms like rocks, trees, rivers, animals, places and even people
- Worshipers believe in Kami (spirts) that occupy the same realm as humans
- Since 1945 it has been no longer taught in state ran schools
Now let’s get into all the different visuals of the Japanese culture in Spirited Away.
The very first thing I noticed in this movie was when Chihrio and her parents where driving in the car. Here in the united states we drive on the right side of the road so it was interesting to see and watch a movie where the driver’s seat was where the passenger’s side is here in the united states.
The next really beautiful image we get with the car scene is when they show the car driving on the road. Because they drive on the left side of the road you can notice in this picture below that they do drive on the left side and not the right like we do here in America.
Also, the use of the more modern cars in this movie represent that Japanese culture has embraced European/Western products.
Now let talk about the clothes used in this movie. Because this movie has both traditional and modern aspects about it. Here you can see that Chrihrio and her parents are wearing what you would call modern clothing.
However, when we get to the spirt world, where the bath house is we began to see more traditional Japanese clothing.
This is Traditional clothing worn by Haku in Spirited Away
Here Chiriro is also wearing her bath house uniform, with her modern-day shoes.
This is a photo that I found to give you a better visual of some of the traditional clothing that is used in Spirited Away.
The items od clothing that are used and shown in this movie are the Haori, Hakama, Tabi and Zori.
Now another thing that I noticed throughout this movie was bowing to each other. In japan it is considered to be respectful to bow to each other.
Now that I have gone through some of the simpler signs of Japanese culture I want to go into more depth. In my research, I kept running across ideas and thoughts about how Japan is the land of the rising sun. Now in the movie Spirited Away there is a painting in the background of a sun.
Miyazaki is very clever when it comes to putting simple details in his movie that I may have never really payed attention to if I didn’t do research on the Japanese culture before watching this movie.
Are you hungry? No? Well you are about to be. Below are a few foods you may encounter if you travel to Japan that was shown in the film Spirited Away.
Steamed Red Buns
Steamed red bean buns are popular in many East Asian cultures. If your interested in making this feel free to click here for the recipe.
Sponge Cake“Ke-ki” (cake) is a type of “Yogashi,” the Japanese term for Western-style sweets. Simple and delicious. If thanks to this post you are craving some sponge cake click here.
Rice Balls/Onigiri おにぎり
In this picture there are multiple food items that are shown in this picture. Some of the food items include:
Rice balls have been around for many many years and they are often triangular like show in the pictures. If you want to try and make this snack click here
Sushi 寿司 which is another classic Japanese dish, it is made of vinegared rice and comes with a topping or filling. The specific types of sushi shown in this picture are: nigirizushi, which is rice topped with prawn or tuna and makizushi, a roll of rice wrapped around any type of fillings that a person would desire.
There are many more foods shown in this movie as well. However because there is so many featured in this movie I’m not going to be able to pin point all of them. just look at this photo of No Face in the bath house.
Some of the foods I can pin point are:
maze 混ぜ gohan ご飯, which is basically just rice mixed with some other ingredient. Click here if you want to make it.
nishime 煮しめ, a typical New Year’s vegetable stew with carrots, mushrooms and konnyaku, a grey, jelly-type thing with practically no calories and full of fiber. Click here if you want to make it.
Before I end this blog post I also want to leave you with a few more really beautiful images from Spirited Away just in case you haven’t seen the movie maybe these will make you want to rent or buy this really beautiful movie filled with Japanese culture.
“Japanese Culture.” Japanese Culture | Inside Japan Tours
“Japanese Culture – Culture of Japan.” Go Japan Go
Miyazaki, Hayao. Spirited away.