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Spirited Away: Cultural Context
Transcript of Spirited Away: Cultural Context
Spirit Realm & Shinto
The film takes place in the Japanese spirit realm.
In Japan for thousands of
years, people have
believed that gods and
spirits live all around them in the rivers, the trees and
Where is the
What is Anime?
Spirited Away is set in Japan, in a deserted theme park and bathhouse for spirits.
What is strange about the setting in
? Why is it strange?
Shinto seems to be 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 (spirits) that occupy the same realm as humans.
Since 1945 it has been no longer taught in state run schools.
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 to life
(source: Oxford English Dictionary)
Can you remember examples of these in the film?
What is the significance of the bathhouse?
Bathhouses are part of Japanese tradition
Customers pay for entry into bathhouses
It is seen as a way of not only washing, but relaxing and being sociable
In modern Japan, bathhouses are used more infrequently than in the past
Why is the bathhouse significant in Spirited Away?
Do you remember when shrines are introduced to the viewer in Spirited Away?
What was Chihiro's and her parents response to them? Why?
"Kaonashi (No-Face) is inside of everyone." Miyazaki Hayao
Considering that all entities are Kami in Shinto, what kind of Kami do you think No-Face is? Take note of Hayao's quote below. Answer in groups.
As the film is written and set in Japan, it at times can be confusing to an audience who is not familiar with Japan and it's culture. This is why it is important to attempt to view Spirited Away with an open perspective, with consideration to it's unique culture. Is there anything that you found confusing?
Directer Hayao Miyazaki
Miyazaki is a
very well known
Japanese directer throughout the
world. He is best
known for his anime films, particularly
Answer in groups.
Choose an image and write what you can see . Why is that moment important to the film?
Spirited Away is set in two different worlds, a modern day Japan where Chihiro and
her family live, and the parallel mysterious land where weird and wonderful creatures
and spirits lurk.
Can you think of other stories which have a real world and fantasy world? Are they similar to Spirited Away?
The Bathhouse represents traditional Japan. Because it is in an abandoned theme park, might suggests Japans own abandonment of Japanese bathhouses and hence Japanese tradition.
The bathhouse in
is significant to Chihiro's journey as it is where she learns about her culture and also about responsibility and independence.