Three Common Points between Ghibli, Zen, and Tea Ceremony

Ghibli, representative of Japanese animation, is said to reflect Zen philosophy. In fact, Producer Suzuki has published a book on the relationship between Ghibli and Zen.

Among the many works such as “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” “Princess Mononoke,” and “Castle in the Sky,” I would like to specifically highlight those containing elements of Zen.

Deliberately creating scenes of “silence”

In “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” the scene where Kiki helps Tombo. In “Princess Mononoke,” the scene where plants grow from the ground with each step of the Deer God. In “Castle in the Sky,” the scene where Pazu and Sheeta arrive at Laputa.

These scenes are silent. When something that previously had sound becomes silent, people focus. You think, “Huh?” right? This effect is well utilized.

In tea ceremony, too, there is little conversation to promote concentration.

Works set in nature

There are many Ghibli works set in nature, such as “Princess Mononoke,” “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind,” “Castle in the Sky,” and “Pom Poko.”

Tea ceremony and Zen have ideas that cherish nature. For example, tea rooms and tea gardens are designed with nature in mind.

Scenes of self-reflection

Ghibli works feature scenes where characters engage in dialogue with themselves. For instance, in “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” the protagonist Kiki suddenly can’t hear Jiji’s voice and can’t fly on her broom anymore.

Other works like “Howl’s Moving Castle,” “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind,” “Spirited Away,” and “Princess Mononoke” also depict characters’ inner conflicts and dialogues with others.

Tea ceremony and Zen also value self-dialogue.

Zen elements in “anime,” a representative Japanese culture

Japanese tea ceremony and Ghibli works have these commonalities. For example, tea ceremony values harmony with nature, such as seasonal flowers and trees, and Ghibli works also have scenes beautifully depicting the changing of seasons.

Moreover, while tea ceremony emphasizes paying attention to the movements of the heart, Ghibli characters are created with meticulous attention to their emotional shifts.

Why not take this opportunity to revisit Ghibli works?

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