Following Chihiro to cross the red bridge leading to the mysterious bathhouse (油屋, Aburaya), the story of ‘Spirited Away‘ (千と千尋の神隠し) began. The whole story was built around the Japanese hot spring (温泉, onsen) culture in Japan. Most of the scenes in and out of the bathhouse were created after the different traditional Japanese inns all over Japan, as well as a small town in Taiwan. If you want to find the trace of Chihiro, Kamaji, Yubaba… in real life, let’s visit the below places and follow the inspirating footage of Miyazaki o(^∀^*)o
Shibu Onsen Kanaguya (涉溫泉金具屋), Japan – the Bathhouse (油屋, Aburaya)
Aburaya is the core setting of the whole story of ‘Spirited Away’. The whole story evolved around this mysterious 4-stories bathhouse which Chihiro (千尋) had discovered with her parents after passing through a long tunnel. It is said that Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎 駿) had depicted the framework of the bathhouse after having inspired by the traditional Japanese inn – Saigetsurou (斉月楼), one of the four buildings of Kanaguya (金具屋) in the Shibu Onsen (涉溫泉) district.
Saigetsurou is listed as an important cultural property (重要文化財) in Nagano Prefecture (長野県), Japan. It was built in the 11th year of the Showa Period (1936). This building is made of 13 wooden pillars which stack up the whole building from the 1st floor to the 4th floor. Nails are rarely used.
Ginzan Onsen Notoya Ryokan (銀山溫泉能登屋旅館), Japan – the red bridge
- Not to be missed is the red bridge which had connected the real world to the spirit world. We can re-visit the scene where Chihiro was holding the arm of Haku (ハク), walking along the bridge towards the bathhouse whilst holding her breath, so that no one could realise that she was human. This is featured at the Notoya Ryokan (能登屋旅館) in the Genzan Onsen (銀山溫泉) district in Yamagata Prefecture (山形県), Japan.
Jiufen (九份), Taiwan – the red lanterns
Chihiro could no longer escaped from the spirit world after the lighting up of lines of red lanterns. Spirits of all kinds started to appear everywhere in the town and Chihiro had to fight for a work contract from Yubaba (湯婆婆) in order to stay in the town without having to be transformed into an animal. The spirit village was inspired by Jiufen (九份) which is a small town in New Taipei City (新北市) in Taiwan. As the town is situated in a mountain area, there are lots of slopes and stairs around the whole town. Along both sides of the small alleys, lines of lanterns are hanged which start illuminating the pathways following the setting of the sun when darkness takes over. Oh my god! It really looks haunting! џ(ºДºџ)
Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum (江戸東京たてもの園), Japan – the boiler room and the surroundings
If you remembered Kamaji (釜爺), the old man with six arms who operated the boiler room, you will surely remember how his arms stretched out to reach the drawers which were covering the walls from bottom to top. The boiler room was inspired by the stationary store Takei Sanshodo (武居三省堂 ) in the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectual Museum in Tokyo (東京), Japan.
Not only the stationary store is featured in “Spirited Away”, but also the surrounding buildings in the whole area. For instance, the exterior and interior of the bathhouse has referenced the Kodakara Bathhouse (子宝湯) shown on the right side. We can see that the exterior of the Kodakara Bathhouse resembles the small infrastructure of Aburaya, where the god of river flew out after having a bath served by Chihiro.Apart from that, the area around Maruni Shoten (丸二商店), the green grocery store in the below picture, has featured some buildings and styles which resembled
the buildings in the walking street in “Spirited Away”.
Towards the end of the story, Chihiro had taken a tram to go to Zeniba (銭婆). The tram resembles Toden 7500 series(都電 7500形). If you are a bigfan of Miyazaki like I do, you will find so much excitements within this museum.