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Studio Ghibli’s film, Spirited Away, grossed 230 million when it was released in 2001, becoming the highest grossing film in Japanese history. With flawless animation and a proper lesson to be learned, it’s appeal is apparent to the audiences who view this film. However, interweaved within the story of a young 10 year old girl stuck in a supernatural world, lies evidence of Japanese traditions that Hayao Miyazaki wishes to make visible to the audience. This admirable film uses a fantasy plot and setting to cover-up the traditions hidden beneath the setting and actions of the film. Spirited Away may seem like a relaxed film to watch with the family, but director Miyazaki reveals Japanese traditions of Sento, Shinto, and the importance of deities throughout the setting and actions performed in the film.
For most Western civilizations, the thought of removing your clothing and collectively bathing out in public is a strange notion. Sento is the art of the Japanese bathing. Sento was used for religious, healing, and restorative purposes in Japan’s early history (Lebovits). Before Western…