Were My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away Inspired by This House?
In the old days when nothing blocked the view, cultivated fields could be seen across the train tracks. This recalls the train scene from Spirited Away.
The old house in Tochigi Prefecture where animated well-known film director Hayao Miyazaki (age 72) once lived as a boy has been converted into a popular gallery where ceramics and photographs by writers and artisans from both Tochigi and other locations are displayed and sold. This traditional Japanese-style house, which may have been an inspiration for My Neighbor Totoro and other films, can now be enjoyed as a space that is merged with contemporary works of art.
When Miyazaki was young, during the War Years, he moved from Tokyo to Tochigi, living in this house from the age of 3 to 9. It has black mortar walls, glass on which the family seal has been etched, and ranma (transom) sloped to prevent dust from settling. A Japanese garden also heightens its appeal. It remains virtually unchanged from their distinctive construction some 80 years ago.
In the DVD produced by Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli, the steep stairs of this house serve as a vivid reminder of the hidden staircase introduced in My Neighbor Totoro. According to the house’s present tenant, Mrs. Asuko Thomas, some visitors say the view of the railroad tracks that can be seen from the second floor reminds them of the train scene in Spirited Away.
In an interview with a vernacular newspaper, director Miyazaki once said, “For me, this is an important place. I think that house, its garden, its lights and shadows helped make me into something. I want to go back and visit there sometimes.”
With the warmth of the white sliding doors and frosted glass windows, the weather outside quickly affects the indoor brightness. These contrasts of light and shadow make you feel the changes of nature with the warmth of the house.
Hajime Tamura ceramic art exhibition is held between May 11 and 26 Opening hours: １１：００－１７：３０ For more information, call Gallery Hanna at +81 (if overseas) 28-638-6123.