Many of us thought some mysteries in Spirited Away would never be solved. But now a letter from Studio Ghibli has surfaced giving us some incredibly detailed explanations!

Japanese Twitter user @0910noncha wrote to Studio Ghibli asking some questions about Spirited Away and actually received a reply in the form of a very thorough letter. The fan asked about Chihiro’s parents turning into pigs, the strange food they ate before their transformation, and how Chihiro passed her final test – and the reply was deliciously long.


The letter explains that Chihiro’s parents turning into pigs symbolizes how some humans become greedy. The Studio Ghibli employee who wrote it says that according to director Hayao Miyazaki there were people that “turned into pigs” during Japan’s bubble economy of the 1980s, and these people still haven’t realized they’ve become pigs. “These people are the ones saying, ‘We are in a recession and don’t have enough to eat.'”

The letter explains that once someone becomes a pig, they don’t return to being human but instead gradually start to have the “body and soul of a pig, ” and that this “doesn’t just apply to the fantasy world.”

The letter also says the reason Chihiro knew none of the pigs at the end of the film were her parents was not because she had “obtained special abilities” in the spirit world. Miyazaki’s answer to the question of how Chihiro passed that test is as follows:

“Chihiro, as a 10-year-old girl, could understand the difference because she had overcome difficulties and had managed to acquire the ‘energy to live’ – which is something everyone can do naturally”.

The writer goes on to explain that the focus of the movie is not on a beautiful young heroine, or a person with a unique heart, but an uncertain girl capturing the “energy to live” by facing her fears.

This gem of information coming from Studio Ghibli gives us an even greater understanding following an excerpt from an interview published online a few years ago, in which Miyazaki himself stated that:

“I’ve never explained why Chihiro knows that her parents are not among the group of pigs towards the end of the film. Those people who are constantly seeking explanations often say that it’s illogical. However, I don’t think those kinds of things are important. After all the things she’s experienced up to that point, Chihiro simply knows that her parents aren’t there. You ask why she knows, but knowing is human life. That’s all it is.”

But wait there’s more.

There have been speculations far and wide about what kind of food Chihiro’s parents ate before they turned into pigs (the food in question can be seen in the upper left image included with @0910noncha’s tweet). The Studio Ghibli employee finally puts an end to this speculation — or does he?

Actually, the answer is that there is no answer. It is meant to be a mystery. The letter says, “It’s not actually made clear what the food is – it’s just ‘very delicious.’”

The author of the letter explains that, according to the character Yubaba, it is “the guest’s food,” therefore it is both the food of the gods and for their guests. At the very moment Chihiro says there is something odd about this town, her parents turn into pigs. The letter says that perhaps this isn’t a coincidence and the food is actually “a trap to catch lost humans”.

Here are some of the Twitter responses to the letter in Japan :

“This is amazing, touching!”

“This letter will make you like Ghibli even more… I want to become a person that thinks this deeply.”

“It’s amazing they replied so meticulously. I wonder if this is why Ghibli is loved all over the world.”

So there we have it, the speculation can finally end. We have answers from the belly of the beast itself: explanations of why Chihiro’s parents turned into pigs, how Chihiro passed her final test, and what kind of food Chihiro’s parents ate before turning into pigs.

Okay, so the speculation may not completely end.

So, what do you think the mysterious food could be?

Source: COROBUZZ, Twitter/@0910noncha
Top image: Flickr/Rowan Gillette- Fussell