Japan’s most acclaimed animated movie producer, Studio Ghibli, enjoys international popularity and numerous followers due to its captivating storylines, enthralling visual designs, and the unique experience of entering a new magical world with each movie released. Little-known is the fact that most of Studio Ghibli’s movie settings are based on existing locations spread not only throughout Japan, but also around the globe. In this article you will discover some of the real-world destinations that inspired the imaginary realm of Studio Ghibli’s internationally-famous movies!
Meet "Princess Mononoke" in Yakushima, Japan
If you wanted to know what inspired the creation of the mystical forest in the classical movie “Princess Mononoke”, look no further than Japan. The country’s very first UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites, the rainforest island Yakushima and the virgin beech forest of Shirakami Sanchi, contain the exact spirituality that was masterfully portrayed by Hayao Miyazaki in the widely acclaimed Studio Ghibli movie. Walking among the millennia-old cedar and beech trees in those truly sacred Japanese destinations feels like you are about to meet a forest spirit, called “kodama” in Japanese, for real!
The nostalgic "Porco Rosso" in Dubrovnik, Croatia
The cobalt blue Adriatic Sea near the old Croatian city Dubrovnik became the inspiration for Studio Ghibli’s romantic wartime story “Porco Rosso”. The red and orange roof tiles of the traditional-style houses nestled around the bay recreate the peculiar southern flavour that captivates the hearts of the movie viewers.
The Valley of the Wind from "Nausicaa" actually exists in Australia
Fans of Hayao Miyzaki’s movie “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” will surely be excited to learn that the valley actually exists inside the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in central Australia. Also known as Mount Olga, the rock-formed valley has been a sacred land for the local aboriginal people for centuries and still possesses a particular divine spirituality.
"Laputa: Castle in the Sky" was in Sri Lanka?
Although never confirmed by Studio Ghibli, it is widely believed that the setting for the flying castle in the popular animated movie was inspired by one of Sri Lanka’s most famous and peculiar tourism destinations, namely the giant rock of the ancient capital of Sigiriya. Yet even in Japan there is a lesser known curious place near Osaka, called the Tomogashima Islands, where abandoned pre-World War II military tunnels and brick facilities are now covered with ivy, producing a vivid memory of the movie’s atmosphere.
"Spirited Away"’s magical world inspired by old Japanese bath houses
Critics often point towards Matsuyama city’s classical bathhouse “Dogo Onsen” when talking about the inspirational locations behind the creation of Aburaya, the fantastical stage of action in the Academy award-winning animated movie “Spirited Away”. However, other similar cultural destinations such as the historical wooden building of Kanaguya ryokan in Nagano’s Shibu Onsen or the attractive Jiufen district in New Taipei are often mentioned as equally inspiring.
Visit Satsuki and Mei’s house from "My Neighbour Totoro"
Probably the most popular real-world location related to Studio Ghibli’s classical children movie “My Neighbour Totoro” can be found in the former Aichi Expo Park, not far from Nagoya city. The full-fledged and authentic recreation of Satsuki and Mei’s house has been attracting numerous international fans ever since its public opening in 2005. Yet however the house has a long history, and today you can visit it to experience the atmosphere of Studio Ghibli’s popular movie.
Don’t forget the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo!
The Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo, is often described as the most popular and visited anime-related destination in the world. Besides a wide array of exhibited items and a recreation of an anime studio, the museum offers several special short movies for exclusive screening to the visitors of the facility. In the spacious garden around the museum you will find several fantastical characters from everyone’s favourite animated movies.
Discover the realm of Studio Ghibli’s movies!
Studio Ghibli’s popularity transcends borders and ages, fascinating people from all over the world. In this article you discovered a selection of existing locations that are said to have inspired Hayao Miyazaki and his co-workers to create the magical worlds depicted in each released animated movie. Experience the fantasy of Studio Ghibli’s art once again by visiting these destinations!
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