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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogThe Appetizing Japanese Snacks of Studio Ghibli

The Appetizing Japanese Snacks of Studio Ghibli

By Jen Santelices
January 25, 2021

Studio Ghibli has created such an impact in the world of anime films. Their movies are often regarded as masterpieces by animation fans and critics alike, and throughout the years, they’ve created so many iconic places, stories, and characters. 

Studio Ghibli movies not only let viewers experience entertainment, but also a whole new atmosphere and reality. Maybe one of the reasons behind this is because of their extreme dedication to getting things right, down to the last detail. One thing in particular that people have lauded them for is how they depict food and how food has a much deeper meaning in their movies. In this article, we’ll talk about the history of this trailblazer of a studio and also talk about the significance of food and snacks for some of Studio Ghibli’s works.

About Studio Ghibli

Spirited away is known for it's depictions of delicious Japanese food and Japanese snacks

Before we start discussing Ghibli food and Ghibli snacks, let’s backtrack a little bit and talk about the iconic studio itself for those who might not be too familiar with them.

Studio Ghibli (written in Japanese as スタジオジブリ, read as sutajio jiburi) was founded in Tokyo, Japan back in 1985. The “ghibli” part of the name was taken from a noun that was used in Italian to refer to a “hot wind blowing through the Sahara”. The reason that this name was chosen was because they wanted to have an impact on anime films, or more specifically, they wanted to “blow a new wind through the anime industry.”

Three men were behind the foundation of the studio. Toshio Suzuki, who is now known as one of Japan’s most successful producers, and Isao Takahata, who served as a director and screenwriter for some of the studio’s films.

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The last and most popular founder is Hayao Miyazaki. He is known as the director for many of their movies, which is why sometimes you might sometimes see the term “Miyazaki films” used to refer to Ghibli films instead. He has 17 directing credits to his name, including some films that have gone on to become instantly recognizable, such as My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Kiki’s Delivery Service. 

Why is Studio Ghibli so popular?

There are a lot of theories as to why Studio Ghibli films are as popular as they are today. In fact, if you ask a number of Studio Ghibli fans, they will not only give you different answers for what their favorite movie is, but they will just as likely have varying reasons for why they became fans in the first place. But at its essence, the love and admiration that Studio Ghibli receives can be boiled down to three things that they do really well: story, animation, and heart. 

In terms of story, Studio Ghibli films are more commonly known for their fantasy elements, and this is part of why people love them: they get to see a world that is different from ours. One good example of this is the story of the witch in training, Kiki and the magical land she lives in, in 1989’s “Kiki’s Delivery Service”. 

But Studio Ghibli have shown that they are also able to weave great storylines and interesting characters even in real-life settings. This was seen in 1992’s comedy-adventure film, Porco Rosso, which is set in the Adriatic Sea and touches on events from World War I. More recently, there was also 2011’s From Up on Poppy Hill, which takes place in the Port of Yokohama in Japan.

Since they’re an anime film studio, it seems almost obvious that they do animation well, but the way that Studio Ghibli animates their movies is unique. They create richly-colored sceneries and backgrounds that make you want to see more, and characters that vividly come to life.

Last but not the least, Studio Ghibli films are always full of heart. Combining their craft in storytelling and animation, they create movies that relate to emotions we’ve all felt as human beings: love, sadness, frustration, determination, happiness, and excitement over events, relationships, or even things like food.

The world of Ghibli food and Ghibli snacks 

A variety of Japanese snacks are depicted in Spirited Away

Speaking of things that Studio Ghibli does well, fans of the animation studio are aware of how good the studio is when it comes to their depictions of food. It can even be said that there can’t be a proper conversation about anime food without mentioning Ghibli food. 

In one of our previous posts about food from Ghibli movies, we talked about how a variety of food from Studio Ghibli movies were faithfully recreated by one dedicated fan. They followed everything down to the small details, like getting the toppings of the bento box from My Neighbour Totoro correct, and even taking out a cake slice just as how it was seen in the tea party scene from Spirited Away.

One thing we didn’t get to talk about however, are Ghibli snacks. One of our previous examples, Spirited Away, depicts a Japanese snack making its way to a Studio Ghibli movie: the red bean paste steamed bun. Chihiro, the main protagonist herself, is seen munching on one of these traditional and popular Japanese snacks.

Real life Japanese snacks from Spirited Away

Often, the food and snacks in Ghibli movies aren’t just there to look good, but they also add another layer to the storytelling. In this example from Spirited Away, the buns are seen as a comforting food to Chihiro, and its sweet interior represents the “sweetness” of her journey. 

When it comes to Studio Ghibli films, they always manage to create such breathtaking worlds that there’s no doubt that fans have wanted to experience what they have to offer, from the interesting places and people to the scrumptious-looking Ghibli snacks and food.

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Author avatar
Jen Santelices

Jen is a freelance wirter and translator living in Japan. In her spare time, she enjoys trying out new snacks and traveling with her friends.

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