Hayao Miyazaki, Shinto and Environmentalism


Hayao Miyazaki (1941-) is arguably Japan's most successful and revered animator and screenwriter. It can be argued that three of his most iconic animations, My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro, 1988), Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-Hime, 1997), and Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, 2001), embody three unique variations of the human-spiritual-natural relationship. Respectively, the first animation starts from a highly utopian and idealized viewpoint of nature, the second from a confrontational standpoint between humanity and a spiritual version of nature, and the third from a process of human displacement and alienation from the natural world into the world of spirits. By intertwining his environmental concerns with his Shinto beliefs, Miyazaki aspires to artistically represent a harmonious way of cohabiting with nature. The best way to achieve this entails recognizing human dependence on the natural element, as well as developing a reverential and respectful attitude towards nature´s transience, attitudes that are historically imbued in Shinto praxis. This paper analyzes the Shinto references and allusions in these three works by Miyazaki, outlining three very distinct approaches to the complex relationship between spiritual belief and new environmental thought, to gain a richer understanding not only of Miyazaki's work and point of view but also of the pivotal role that spiritual belief and memory can play in promoting a new environmentally conscious way of living.

Author Information
Lauro Filipe Reis, University of Lisbon, Portugal

Paper Information
Conference: IICAH2023
Stream: Media

This paper is part of the IICAH2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Reis L. (2023) Hayao Miyazaki, Shinto and Environmentalism ISSN: 2432-4604 – The IAFOR International Conference on Arts & Humanities – Hawaii 2023 Official Conference Proceedings https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2432-4604.2023.3
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2432-4604.2023.3

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon