“Where is the location where Spirited Away was filmed?” “Where is the hot spring hotel that was the model for the movie?” If you are a Ghibli fan, you have probably asked yourself these questions. Spirited Away, which is a story of a young girl who wanders into the world of the gods, is an anime film by Studio Ghibli released on 20 July 2001 in Japan. It is one of the representative works of Hayao Miyazaki. Let’s visit 12 model locations in Spirited Away.
Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum
Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum, located in Koganei City, Tokyo, served as a reference for director Miyazaki when he created Spirited Away. Established by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in 1993, the museum aims to relocate, reconstruct, preserve, and display historically significant buildings that cannot be maintained at their original sites.
The official Studio Ghibli website acknowledges Kodakara-yu as a strong inspiration for the creation of Spirited Away. This public bathhouse, constructed in 1929 in Senju-motomachi, Adachi Ward, operated until 1988 and can now be visited at the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum.
Kagiya is said to be the model for the place where Chihiro’s parents ate a mountain of food and turned into pigs. Kagiya was an Izakaya bar located in Taito Ward, Tokyo, and opened at the end of the Edo period. Izakaya is a Japanese-style drinking establishment where you can enjoy drinks and food at reasonable prices.
Takei Sanseido, a stationery store in Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum, served as the model for Kamaji’s workplace. This stationery store was established in the early Meiji era. It was originally a wholesaler of calligraphy supplies, but later changed to a retail store.
Korekiyo Takahashi Residence
The Korekiyo Takahashi Residence at Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum was the home of Korekiyo Takahashi, a Japanese statesman during the Meiji era. This residence blends traditional Japanese architectural styles with modern elements influenced by the West. Takahashi, known for his efforts to promote Japan’s modernization, used this residence as a setting for his political activities, offering a glimpse into his era and political contributions. Today, the residence is open to the public within the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum, providing visitors with an opportunity to learn about historical Japanese architecture and the lifestyle of that period.
Streetcar: Toden 7500 Type
The model of the train that went with Kaonashi to “Numa no Soko Station” is the “Toden 7500” in Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum. The Toden 7500 started in front of Shibuya Station and ran toward Shimbashi, Hamacho, Nakanobashi, and Kanda. Streetcars other than the Arakawa Line were phased out beginning in 1972 due to the rapid increase in traffic.
Sekizenkan Ryokan (Shima Onsen )
According to the staff, Hayao Miyazaki stayed at Sekizenkan Ryokan prior to making Spirited Away. Maybe Sekizenkan Ryokan is one of the the model locations. Sekizenkan Ryokan sits in the middle of Shima Onsen, which name (四万温泉) means “The 40,000 Hot Spring,” since it was believed that bathing in the local waters could cure 40,000 different diseases. Shima Onsen is located in Gunma Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo. According to the staff, Hayao Miyazaki stayed here prior to making Spirited Away. Maybe Sekizenkan Ryokan is one of the the model locations. The main building, or honkan was built in 1691, which is the oldest existing onsen hotel in Japan.Sekizenkan is Japan’s oldest wooden bathhouse building.
You can buy Aburaya (Bathhouse), which is Assembly Paper Craft.
Red Bridge in Sekizenkan Ryokan
Remember the red bridge in front of Yubaba’s hot spring hotel in Spirited Away? In the film, Chihiro held her breath as she crossed the bridge, so that no one would know she was human. The red bridge in front of the ryokan is called “Keiun Bridge(慶雲橋).”
Crossing Corridor of Sekizenkan Rykan
Part of the corridor of Sekizenkan is a tunnel. Rumor has it that this place resembles the tunnel used to exit the real world at the beginning of Spirited Away.
There are also several places in Ikaho Onsen that served as models for Spirited Away.
Some people say Kajika Bridge is a model location of the red bridge in Spirited Away. Kajika Bridge is located among the forest in the area south of the Ikaho Onsen town in Gunma Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo. The Ikaho Onsen is a small old-fashioned area with traditional restaurants and shops lining the streets.
It is said that Hayao Miyazaki was inspired by the interiors of Yokotekan for the drawings of “Spirited Away”.Yokote-kan is a hot spring ryokan located in Ikaho Onsen, Gunma Prefecture. The main building of Yokote-kan was constructed in 1920.
Dogo Onsen Honkan
The design of the Aburaya(油屋）contains various hot springs and there is no specific model, but it is officially stated that Dogo Onsen Honkan was the reference locations.
Dogo Onsen Honkan is the symbol of Dogo Onsen. Dogo Onsen is a hot spring in Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku. It is said to be one of the three oldest hot springs in Japan. Its existence has been known since ancient times and is even mentioned in the Manyoshu, the oldest anthology of Japanese poetry. Dogo Onsen Honkan was first public bathhouse in Japan to be designated as a National Important Cultural Property in 1994, but it has remained in operation as a public bathhouse without being turned into a museum. It was awarded the highest rating of three stars in the Michelin Green Guide Japon published in 2009. The present-day Honkan is a 3-story wooden structure renovated in 1894 by Yukiya Isaniwa(佐庭如矢), the first mayor of Dogo Yunomachi. The Dogo Onsen Honkan has two bathing areas, the Tama-no-Yu and Kami-no-Yu. The “three oldest hot springs in Japan” （日本三古湯：にほんさんことう：nihonnsannkotou）are Dogo Onsen (Ehime Prefecture), Arima Onsen (Hyogo Prefecture), and Shirahama Onsen (Wakayama Prefecture). These hot springs have such a long history（Nara period：710-794) that they appear in “Nihonshoki” (Chronicles of Japan)
Hyakudan Kaidan in Hotel Gajoen Tokyo
The “Hyakudan Kaidan” in Hotel Gajoen Tokyo is said to have served as the model for the interior of Aburaya in Spirited Away.
Hyakudan Kaidan is the common name for Meguro Gajoen Building No. 3, the predecessor of Hotel Gajoen Tokyo, a wooden structure built in 1935. A long stair corridor of 99 steps connects the seven rooms where meals and celebrations were held. Hyakudan Kaidan was designated a Tangible Cultural Property of Japan in 2001 and a Tangible Cultural Property of Tokyo in 2009. The reason for 99 steps instead of 100 is that odd numbers are good luck, and missing one step can lead to further development.
Chihiro goes on a train whose railroad continues into the sea, which is Shimonada Station. Station on the JR Yosan Line in Ehime prefecture is known as the station closest to the sea. About a 15-minute walk away from Shimonada Station, you will find a railroad that continues into the sea.
If you are interested in learning about Japanese culture and the Japanese language through “Spirited Away,” please click Spirited Away: Let’s Learn Japanese Language and Culture!