Spirited Away to Jiufen

8 08 2007

It’s not secret that I am a big Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki fan. I grew up watching such classics as My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky, and Gauche the Cellist in Japanese with Chinese subtitles (meaning I couldn’t understand a word), so I appreciated the art of Studio Ghibli before I understood the storylines. My interest grew when I finally got my hands on Japanese versions with English subtitles.

Studio Ghibli logo

How can anyone not fall for such a cute and furry character?

So imagine my surprise and delight when I found out that Jiufen, a village located on the northeast coast of Taiwan, was one of the inspirations for the village in Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi). Apparently Mr. Miyasaki visited the little village on a mountain and was charmed by it. There is even a teahouse set in the mountain that features masks similar to the ambiguous black robed spirit (No Face) with a mask in the movie.

Here’s a movie poster for Spirited Away:

Spirited Away Movie Poster

Here is a picture of Jiufen at night.


What do you think?

According to Wikipedia, Jiufen was a gold mining town that reached its peak under the time of Japanese rule in Taiwan. After the gold was exhausted, interest in this town declined significantly. Since the town was largely forgotten except by those living there, it is a well preserved example of a mountain town under Japanese colonization. The town was “rediscovered” as a tourist destination after it was featured in a movie called “City of Sadness” that was released in 1989.

We are planning to visit Jiufen along with Lukang, another preserved historic village, on our Taiwan visit. I’m not just visiting it for the Studio Ghibli tie-in, don’t worry. It is supposed to be a very quaint town with lots of specialty foods set in a beautiful mountain overlooking the ocean. I will report back with my thoughts after I see it with my own eyes!




9 responses

12 08 2007
David on Formosa » Links 13 August 2007

[…] Travels with Sandy notes that Jiufen was one of the inspirations for Spirited Away. […]

15 10 2007

I own a Studio Ghibli box set specifically because of this movie. It’s a beautiful movie. I had no idea Jiufen was one of the inspirations for it. Your photo is bang on! Thanks for a most interesting read this morning.

15 10 2007

Thanks for your comment! Spirited Away is one of my favorite films of all time. I actually didn’t take that picture, but found it online. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make it to Jiufen during our trip to Taiwan because of a typhoon. It is definitely on my short list for next time though!

25 10 2007
MJ Klein

i am looking for sites to prospect for gold in Taiwan. good places are the areas where the gold has been “exhausted” mainly because of the lack of modern detection equipment. prospectors have gone back into mines and found gold deposits just centimeters away from where earlier prospectors had given up – because they didn’t have a metal detector that could scan through the rock walls and find the gold! nearby streams are a great place to pan for gold (yes I have gold pans).

25 10 2007

That’s really neat! Have you been to Jinguashi then? I heard you can pan for gold there. I’ve always wanted to find a gold nugget.

9 03 2008
An Evening in Jiufen « The Daily Bubble Tea

[…] It was already late afternoon by the time we arrived, so the crowds were rapidly thinning as we made our way through the area’s tourist streets.  This was my second time visiting Jiufen, the first time was when I visited Taiwan for 2 weeks in 2004.  Jiufen has a special charm and was the inspiration for the village in the movie Spirited Away. […]

10 12 2008

Did you ever visit the Studio Ghibli Museum in Japan?
My friend went I took a photo next to the HUGE Robot Solider.

I saw some photos of the cafe of an pans in the shape of Totoros.
I don’t know if they still make them, but I’m sure they’re doing
other cute stuffs.


10 12 2008

:foot in mouth:

oops. Nevermind. I just saw your post. Duh..


6 06 2010
2010 Summer Trip Research – JiuFen (九份) « Tea Vodka Cafe

[…] Spirited Away to Jiufen […]

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