In case some of you didn’t know who Suzuki Toshio is, he is the former president of Studio Ghibli and a close friend of Hayao Miyazaki. Studio Ghibli was formed in the year 1985. Together, they have produced some of the anime blockbusters films such as Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle and many more. Their first anime film is Laputa: Castle in the Sky. A few of Studio Ghibli’s films have been regarded as ‘coming of age’ which is very favourable among filmgoers. Captivating the hearts of many anime fans all over the world, Suzuki Toshio and Studio Ghibli are set to open a temporary exhibition featuring important documents, calligraphies and other displays related to their movies for the past 30 years in Nagasaki.
Famous characters featured in Studio Ghibli’s films. Image Source: Tokyo Treat.
At the beginning of this year, Studio Ghibli announced that they will put on a special exhibition to honour not Hayao Miyazaki, but a lesser-known Studio Ghibli’s producer, Toshio Suzuki. Their first exhibition was held in EDOCCO Cultural Exchange Centre, Kanda Myojin Shrine, Tokyo from April 20th until May 12th. The exhibition gained a lot of attention and visitors throughout its opening which is not a surprise, considering Ghibli’s successful reputation as an anime producer.
After Tokyo, they will bring the Suzuki Toshio & GHIBLI’s Exhibition to Huis Ten Bosch, Nagasaki. Last year, the exhibition took place in Hiroshima, Kanazawa and Nagoya with a slightly different approach.
Suzuki Toshio & GHIBLI’s Exhibition, Nagasaki poster. Image Source: Huis Ten Bosch Official Website.
The limited-time exhibition will be held in Palace Huis Ten Bosch from July 13th until September 23rd. If you didn’t get the chance to visit the exhibition in Tokyo, you can go to Nagasaki to see the world of Studio Ghibli.
What to See in Suzuki Toshio & GHIBLI’s Exhibition?
One of the popular attractions in the exhibition is a giant head statue of the twin sister, Yubaba and Zeniba, The Bathhouse owner and evil witch from Spirited Away. You can insert your hands inside the statue where you will find many omikuji (small fortune papers regularly found in Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples) dangling from the mouth’s palate. You can pull down any of the omikuji and it will reveal your fortune number. After that, go to a wooden drawer situated by the wall to reveal your fortune.
Yubaba and Zeniba giant head statue. Image Source: Grapee.
Since there are two head statues, Zeniba holds the blue omikuji tags which represent ‘Better Fortune’. Meanwhile, Yubaba holds the red omikuji tags that represent ‘Love’. Don’t be too surprised to see long queues by either side of these two head statues because apparently, visitors are very interested to know their fate. If you don’t read Japanese, don’t worry as the fortune papers also provide an English explanation. Interestingly, the fortune papers have calligraphy written by Toshio Suzuki. You will see more of his calligraphy works throughout the exhibition.
The fortune papers. Image Source: Grapee.
Aside from that, occasionally, No Face (kaonashi), a lonely spirit who followed Chihiro everywhere she goes, also from Spirited Away will make a creepy appearance to welcome visitors to the exhibition. Dressed in all black, with his white mask, a few strands of hair coming out of his head and long hand claws, his presence will definitely make your whole experience creepier (in a good way).
No Face creeping up next to the giant head statue. Image Source: Time Out.
Besides the twin sisters’ statue, you should also look out for a mini replica of The Bathhouse or known as Aburaya as seen in Spirited Away. The Bathhouse, owned by Yubaba was the major location in the film and the structure was inspired by Dogo Onsen (Ehime Prefecture), Meguro Gajoen and Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum (Tokyo Prefecture). The replica stands at three meters tall and illuminated by iridescent lights.
A miniature of The Bathhouse. Image Source: Japan Gate.
As mentioned, Toshio Suzuki calligraphy works can be seen in the exhibition as he was one of the top names in the calligraphy world. The purpose of this whole exhibition was solely based on Suzuki’s works so fans are able to appreciate his lifelong career with Studio Ghibli.
Heading towards the literature section, here you will see displays of Suzuki’s production notes, original illustrations and documents. Papers consisting of storyboards for some Studio Ghibli’s films such as Princess Mononoke also can be seen posted on the wall. Furthermore, they also exhibit Suzuki’s calligraphy works containing life quotes written in both Japanese and English.
Suzuki’s calligraphy works alongside films’ posters. Image Source: Grapee.
Throughout the exhibition, you will come across some unfamiliar works that weren’t from Studio Ghibli such as magazines from Animage (Japanese anime and entertainment magazine). Apart from Studio Ghibli’s, Suzuki also features his editorial pieces in which he met Hayao Miyazaki through his Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind manga.
Another section of Suzuki’s Animage works. Image Source: Grapee.
Other than documents and posters, Suzuki also did his calligraphy as can be seen smeared across giant posters of Studio Ghibli’s most notable films. As interesting as these displays can be, visitors are prohibited to touch any of it. Therefore, please refrain from doing so.
Head over to the gift shop where you can purchase all sorts of Studio Ghibli’s limited edition merchandises. For instance, an amulet with Yubaba face drawn on it, Yubaba Kokeshi dolls, stationaries, No Face face masks, tenugui, a mini replica of Totoro’s house and other must-have items. Some of the products mentioned might not be sold at Nagasaki’s exhibition because a few of them were a part of a collaboration between Studio Ghibli and Kanda Myojin Shrine. Nevertheless, it is worth a visit especially if you are Studio Ghibli’s fans!
Some of the limited edition merchandise. Image Source: Time Out Tokyo.
Suzuki Toshio & GHIBLI’s Exhibition
Address: Palace Huis Ten Bosch, 1-1 Huis Ten Bosch Machi, Sasebo, Nagasaki 859-3292, Japan
Exhibition Date: 13th July until 23rd September 2019
Operation Hours: 9:00AM – 10:00PM
Admission Fee: ¥500 for Huis Ten Bosch’s passport holders
Closest Train Station: Huis Ten Bosch Station on JR Seaside Liner for SASEBO