Saturday, January 4, 2014

Spirits of Time Past

This article is about the 2001 Japanese animation Spirited Away by the amazing Hayao Miyazaki. Written by Susan Bye who is an educator here at ACMI, Melbourne.

Bye discusses Chihrio, the protagonists journey and how it relates to larger issues in contemporary Japanese society. I am currently reading more on Shinto and wabi sabi and trying to grasp a better understanding of their meaning. Chihiro learns and gains some traditonal Japanese virtues on her journey. The chracters in the film very much as Bye states draw on the animistic influence of Shintoism and also a Japanese term furusato which is likened to a nostalgia for the past. 
The film has many fantastical, spiritual characters that represent aspects from nature, emotional characteristics and Japanese stereotypes. 
Bye suggest that the Bathhouse represents the Shinto notion of purification. In the story many spiritual characters come to the Bathhouse to be cleansed on a physical and spiritual level. The film touches on environmental issues and a disengaged society.

Miyazaki’s yearning for Japan to relocate those aspects of its traditional heritage that will invigorate its future. pg 127

I see the term furusato as having similar qualities as wabi sabi. It literally means home town but with the nostalgia aspect, can relate to deterioration elements within wabi sabi.

I love this film and is my favorite by Miyazaki. Having started on the research, especially on animism in Shinto and wabi sabi I have reached an ever deeper admiration and perhaps understanding of the characters. 

Bye, Susan
Screen Education, Spring 2012, Issue 67, p.121-128 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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