Build Your Own Miniature Sets from Hayao Miyazaki’s Beloved Films: My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service & More

In the Shin­to­ism from which Hayao Miyazaki’s films lib­er­al­ly draw, the worlds of nature and spir­it are not mutu­al­ly exclu­sive. “Shrine Shin­to,” write James Boyd and Tet­suya Nishimu­ra at The Jour­nal of Reli­gion and Film, “under­stands the whole of life, includ­ing both humans and nature, as cre­ative and life giv­ing. A gen­er­a­tive, imma­nent force har­mo­nious­ly per­vades the whole phe­nom­e­nal world.” But to expe­ri­ence this pow­er “requires an aes­thet­i­cal­ly pure and cheer­ful heart/mind, an emo­tion­al, men­tal and voli­tion­al con­di­tion that is not eas­i­ly attained.” In My Neigh­bor Totoro, for exam­ple, Miyaza­ki helps to induce this state in us with long slice-of-life pas­sages that move like gen­tle breezes through tall grass­es and trees. In the apoc­a­lyp­tic sci-fi Nau­si­caä of the Val­ley of the Wind, the title char­ac­ter her­self takes on the task of har­mo­nious­ly rec­on­cil­ing man, nature, and mutant insect.

I would argue that Miyazaki’s films are not sole­ly enter­tain­ments, but means by which we can expe­ri­ence “an aes­thet­i­cal­ly pure and cheer­ful” heart and mind. And although he has retired, we can relive those films “over and over again,” as The Creator’s Project writes, not only by watch­ing them, but by build­ing minia­ture sets from them, as you see rep­re­sent­ed here. See My Neigh­bor Totoro’s old, rus­tic house in the for­est—where Sat­su­ki and Mei come to terms with their mother’s ill­ness while befriend­ing the local nature spirits—get assem­bled at the top of the post. And just above, see the town of Koriko from Kiki’s Deliv­ery Ser­vice take shape, a place that becomes trans­formed by mag­ic, just as Kiki does by her sor­ties into the for­est.

These kits, made by the Japan­ese paper craft com­pa­ny Sankei, are “ready to be assem­bled and glued togeth­er, cre­at­ing your own mini movie set,” The Creator’s Project notes. Pre­vi­ous mod­els include Totoro and his two small com­pan­ions, above, and the bak­ery from Kiki; anoth­er kit recre­ates the desert­ed mag­i­cal town Chi­hi­ro and her par­ents stum­ble upon in Spir­it­ed Away. The kits don’t come cheap—each one costs around $100—and they take time and skill to assem­ble, as you see in these videos. But like so many of the impor­tant acts in Miyazaki’s films—and like the act of watch­ing those films themselves—we might think of assem­bling these mod­els as rit­u­als of patience and devo­tion to aes­thet­ic habits of mind that slow us down and gen­tly nudge us to seek har­mo­ny and con­nec­tion.

via The Creator’s Project

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Simp­sons Pay Won­der­ful Trib­ute to the Ani­me of Hayao Miyaza­ki

Hayao Miyazaki’s Beloved Char­ac­ters Reimag­ined in the Style of 19th-Cen­tu­ry Wood­block Prints

Soft­ware Used by Hayao Miyazaki’s Ani­ma­tion Stu­dio Becomes Open Source & Free to Down­load

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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