Anime vs Real-life: Touring the Real-life Locations of Spirited Away
Studio Ghibli films have gained worldwide popularity till today. Some of the most iconic movies are “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbor Totoro”. Released in 2001, the film Spirited Away, directed by Miyazaki Hayao, remains one of the best-animated films to this day. Spirited Away tells the story of Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl who navigates the labyrinths of life in A mystical microcosm inhabited by ancient spirits. Throughout her journey in this alternate world, Chihiro learns valuable lessons about the fundamental nature of the universe as well as the importance of friendship. However, few people know that some of the scenes in the movie turned out to be inspired by real places in Japan. Discover through this article some of the real-life locations of Spirited Away.
We introduce the real-life locations of Spirited Away with the Sekizenkan. According to the staff of Shima Onsen, Hayao Miyazaki stayed here before making ‘Spirited Away’. It is certainly apparent that the Sekizenkan onsen inspired the Spirited Away bath house in some ways. Shima Onsen’s Sekizenkan Honkan was built in 1691 and is said to be the oldest wooden bathhouse (Ryokan) in Japan. As such, the nostalgic atmosphere of the period is perfectly preserved there.
As an Important Cultural Property of Japan, Sekizenkan Honkan is one of the most historically significant real-life locations of Spirited Away.
It is a three-level wooden building with a watchtower with red glass windows topped by an egret, the symbol of the onsen. This is officially confirmed as the main source of inspiration for the bathhouse, Aburaya. You can find these hot springs in Ehime Prefecture, in Matsuyama City. This onsen is the oldest in Japan. It is more than 1,000 years ago!
The bathhouse offers various price levels. The least expensive ones allow you to bathe in the main bath, while the more expensive ones allow you to bathe in a second bath or rent out a tatami room. After bathing, visitors can enjoy “Botchan dango,” a sweet dumpling made from rice flour and tea.
There is also the opportunity to tour the bath used by the Imperial Family.
Unfortunately, there is no station in the middle of the ocean in Japan like there is in Spirited Away. Many fans of this movie quickly found a location that closely resembles the scene in the movie. Many theorized that the station was inspired by ‘Shimonada Station’ located in Ehime Prefecture.
The station is a monorail station located by the sea which certainly makes it look very close to the station that appeared in Spirited Away. The station is also located fairly near Dogo Onsen which means that you can visit both of these real-life locations of Spirited Away at the same time!
These scenic train tracks run along the coastline, but if you sit back and stare out the train’s windows, the passing view looks exactly like what Chihiro saw when she was journeying to meet Zeniba, the twin sister of Yubaba, the mistress of the bathhouse.
In the rainy season, the flooded tracks look exactly like the scene from the movie
The last of the real-life locations of Spirited Away we have identified is the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum. It is a museum of historic Japanese buildings enabling visitors to enter and explore a wide variety of buildings of different styles, periods, and purposes, from upper-class homes to pre-war shops, public baths (sentō), and Western-style buildings of the Meiji period, which would normally be inaccessible to tourists or other casual visitors, or which cannot be found in Tokyo.
Of all the real-life locations of Spirited Away, this is the only one you need a ticket to visit. If you wish to visit the museum, consult their official website here. Advanced reservation is recommended for purchasing admission tickets.
We look forward to discovering other real-life locations of Spirited Away and we hope to find more of them. We won’t hesitate to update the article if needed.
Hayao Miyakazi, the Spirited Away director, denies that Jiufen was an inspiration, but there seems to have drawn a connection between the town’s appearance and its resemblance to the settings in the movie.
Even some characters were inspired by the town
Food was a huge part of the film and Jiufen had plenty of it. The girl’s parents ate tons of food and turned into delicious pigs. Going through the streets of Jiufen you can see some of the food centred in the anime you could consume. Certainly one of the main attractions of this place is the food you can eat there.