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ode to the bedrooms of studio ghibli 🛏🌱
the bedrooms of studio ghibli speak to how so much of our magic is tucked into the details.
I’ve been rewatching my favorite Studio Ghibli movies.
I typically do this at the onset of Winter every year when I need to insert some joy (and tbh some dopamine) into the bleakness of the season. It’s what will be a lifelong tradition that stretches back to my childhood. I was first introduced to Studio Ghibli when I was three years old and my grandmother found a tape of Kiki’s Delivery Service at a Goodwill. The moment I saw that magical girl with her big ass red bow and big ass pink bag hop onto that broom and fly across the moon, I was *obsessed*.
Since then I’ve been making my way through Studio Ghibli’s library, and while there’s still a number I haven’t seen yet, I feel so much gratitude for what the films inspire. The magic! The nature! The taking on of complex issues of war and imperialism! The focus on friendship! The FOOD (animated food looks more delicious to me than actual food sorry not sorry). Seeing headstrong and wildly determined girls like me trust their spirits and find their way (which arguably was a part of my queer awakening but we won’t get into that rn)!
I could write volumes on how much Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, and Toshio Suzuki’s studio impacted my childhood and has gone on to be a source of delight, inspiration, soothing, and meditation in my life.
But rn, I want to focus on the bedrooms.
I got interested in the bedrooms of Studio Ghibli because I recently rewatched Howl’s Moving Castle - and got re-awed at the detail and depth of Howl’s bedroom. It is overflowing with colors, magic trinkets and books, the items cast about with an uncurated intimacy. His bedroom gives way to so many other secret doors to his personality.
I’m someone that already loves tending to the energy of a space, and has a particular appreciation for the intimacy of bedrooms. The bedroom is the home within the home. To me it’s a hugely spiritual space because I hide absolutely nothing from it. The walls of my bedroom have witnessed some of the rawest forms of my emotions. Bedrooms are a form of time travel. The objects in a bedroom are a snapshot of who we’ve been, who we are, and where we’re going. Bedrooms are a mood ring, they’re a way that I can pour my personality into materiality in a way that’s meaningful. Sometimes looking at my room is a better indicator of my emotional state than words. I feel deeply honored and trusted anytime I’m in someone else’s bedroom because a room can be one of the most intimate reflections of who and how we are.
The bedrooms of Studio Ghibli speak to how magic is often hiding in the details. What brings me back to Studio Ghibli again and again is their ability to transport me into worlds that weave together fantastical nature, spirits, and adventure, yet remain tethered to the quiet joys of everyday life. The worlds of Studio Ghibli are both fantastical and everyday. They are wondrous yet touchable. Which ends up being a metaphor for daily life. If you reach out and look softly enough, even in the darkest of moments there are strings of belovedness holding the day together. As Hayao Miyazaki said in his first proposal for the film Princess Mononoke "...even amid hatred and carnage, life is still worth living. It is possible for wonderful encounters and beautiful things to exist."
That said, here’s a list of 8 of my favorite Studio Ghibli bedrooms.
1. Arrietty’s Bedroom
Film: The Secret World of Arrietty
I ADORE Arrietty’s room. It’s my personal favorite of the Studio Ghibli films. I’ve written for some years about maximalism, what I loosely see as the agency to practice lushness. Arrietty is a maximalist to me. There’s a scene when Arrietty’s mother Homily Clock comes in and looking around concerned proclaims, “What happened to your room?!” To which Arrietty gently smiles and replies dreamily: “It’s my own little garden.” I imagine Arrietty lovingly and carefully picked the objects in her room over the course of her adventures, which I relate to in how I’ve come by the objects that make up my own room. The bedroom light that’s actually a hollowed out lemon or lime is my fav item in her space.
2. Howl’s Bedroom
Film: Howl’s Moving Castle
Howl’s bedroom is my close favorite runner up. You can see how much of Howl’s personality is poured into the space. The room is filled with wild colors, exuberant textures, and abounds with wards, talismans, and objects for spells. I peeped how many toys are in the bedroom, which I imagine are linked to Howl’s sometimes childish tendencies and the fact that for all we know, he raised himself alone. Howl’s room reminds of my grandmother’s house - her home is also drenched with color, with candles and crystals tucked in every corner. Like her home, Howl’s room feels deeply protected. Favorite object of the room: Howl’s little cow plushies on his bed (😭🥺).
3. Ursula’s Bedroom
Film: Kiki’s Delivery Service
I love Urusla’s bedroom because it’s also her painting studio, which I relate to heavy as my bedroom also serves as my writing space. I love this room because it’s also where one of my favorite Studio Ghibli scenes occurs. It’s the scene when *spoiler* Kiki loses her magic and stays with Ursula as she copes. As they get ready for bed, Ursula offers Kiki some advice in reflection on her own art practice on the importance of finding our own inspiration: “But we each need to find our own inspiration, Kiki. Sometimes it’s not easy.”
4. Ponyo’s Bedroom
Listen, if you’re side-eyeing if this is a bedroom or not, I argue that it IS! Ponyo’s bedroom is arguably the little castle she lives in within a bubble with all of her sisters. The bedroom is located in her father Fujimotos’ underwater home. I love that the globe and castle is a cheeky nod to the stereotypical look of goldfish bowls - very fitting for a goldfish princess. We never see the inside of the castle but I like to imagine that it’s full of tiny rooms that Ponyo and her hundreds of sisters live in.
5. Haru’s Bedroom
Film: The Cat Returns
Studio Ghibli is *that girl* when it comes to the details, and Haru’s room is no exception: the scattered books, the baskets of cosmetics, the various artworks pushpinned into the wall. It’s beautifully fitting for a high school girl that’s finding her way to her own bravery and spirit. I also want to give a special shoutout to Haru’s cow clock. The WAY I WANTED THIS THING WHEN I FIRST SAW IT. 😩 GAH. SO GOOD.
6. Kamajī’s Bedroom
Film: Spirited Away
I loved the design of Kamajī’s bed/workspace. Since it seems his arms can extend indefinitely, I wonder if the tall design of his bed/workspace is made to accommodate that? The towering cabinets of herbs along the walls of the room are also so beautifully & smartly designed (I want to open and look in every one). I notice in a few scenes that there are books in the drawers by his bed/workspace - hugely curious what would have been on Kamajī’s book list.
7. Shizuku’s Bedroom
Film: Whisper of the Heart
Shizuku, writer and daydreamer that she is, has a beautiful desk in her room that we often see her writing at. I particularly love the cat calendar that hangs above it. Also, y’all know that “lo-fi girl” gif/picture that’s in that popular lo-fi playlist? The roots of that image come from Shizuku.
8. Anna’s Bedroom
Film: When Marnie Was There
The soft greens, warm yellows and oranges of Anna’s bedroom (which was the bedroom of Setsu and Kiyomasa Oiwa’s daughter) are so, so beautiful. Also the view to the sea she has from the bedroom is so stunning. The room feels soft and gentle, which I see in Anna’s personality. Favorite object in her room is the wood made canopy style bed.
Thank you, as always, for reading. Would love to know what your favorite Studio Ghibli bedrooms might be.
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