Anime characters from My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away are your companions for this special tea ceremony.

Studio Ghibli’s animated movies are known to whisk audiences away to magical worlds filled with excitement and adventure, but now the anime studio has found a way to whisk us into a zen-like state, with a new lineup of Japanese tea ceremony products.

The two movies chosen to feature on these products are two of the most traditionally Japanese in the studio’s repertoire — My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away. Unlike a number of Ghibli films that take place in Western settings, like Howl’s Moving Castle and Kiki’s Delivery Service, these two films take their inspiration from Japanese life and culture, making them the perfect fit for the tea ceremony collection.

The first item in the range is the Spirited Away Chasen, with “chasen” being the Japanese word for “tea whisk”. These whisks are usually made from a light-coloured bamboo, but once you start venturing into the world of the tea ceremony, you’ll discover there are even more exclusive, handcrafted varieties available, and this is one of them.

In Japan, the word “chasen” can be written in one of two ways, with “茶筅” being the kanji for a common tea whisk that’s used for purpose, and “茶筌” being reserved only for Takayama Chasen, which are specially made whisks that are also seen as works of art.

As you might expect from an animation studio dedicated to handmade craftsmanship in its own work and those it aligns itself with, this Spirited Away whisk is a Takayama chasen, handcrafted from black bamboo.

The whisk features the face of No Face — a contemplative notion in itself for a tea ceremony — carved into the front of the whisk, and on the back is a stamp that reads, “Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi“, which is Spirited Away‘s Japanese movie title.

Takayama Chasen is a traditional craft in Takayama Town, Ikoma City, Nara Prefecture, where the black bamboo whisks are meticulously crafted by hand, giving each one its own unique quality. Unlike mass-produced whisks, no machines or chemicals are used to produce Takayama Chasen, and even the tools used by the craftsmen are handmade.

This impressive craftsmanship is also evident in the My Neighbour Totoro Chasen, which features Totoro on the front…

▼ …and My Neighbour Totoro‘s Japanese movie title, “Tonari no Totoro“, on the back.

Each whisk comes packaged in a beautiful box, adorned with one sticker from Studio Ghibli that reads “Spirited Away Takayama Chasen”, using the everyday “茶筅” kanji, and one from Chikumeido, the makers of the whisk, where Takayama Chasen is written with the “茶筌” kanji.

You can’t have a tea ceremony without a tea bowl, and the ones that Ghibli have for us are a perfect match for the tea whisks.

▼ The Spirited Away Matcha Tea Bowl sees No Face being joined by several camelia flowers.

▼ Camelia flowers also appear on the reverse side of the bowl, with a couple of Soot Sprites.

Camelia are a floral motif commonly used for kimonos worn from December to March, suggesting this bowl will be perfect for the coming months, and even for “hatsugama“, the first tea ceremony of the year.

The Japanese title of the film is stamped on the underside of the bowl, along with the name of the studio.

The tea bowls are made from Akahada ware, a type of Japanese pottery from Nara Prefecture primarily used to create tea ceremony products. Akahada ware is fired using Nara’s iron-rich clay, giving it a slightly red base and a soft, milky appearance.

▼ That milkiness is even more pronounced in the My Neighbour Totoro Matcha Tea Bowl.

For this design, Totoro is joined by a small Totoro and some freshly sprouted leaves, which make it the perfect bowl for spring, in line with the fact that My Neighbour Totoro is set in the month of May.

On the reverse side (above) is a small Totoro, and on the underside (below) we have the maker’s mark, along with the Japanese title of the film and the name of the anime studio.

▼ Each tea bowl comes packaged in a beautiful box.

Now we come to the all-important matter of price, and given the handcrafted nature of each item, they don’t come cheap.

The whisks and bowls are sold separately, priced at 11,000 yen (US$73.71) each. There is the option to purchase a Spirited Away Matcha Bowl and Chasen Set, which contains a No Face bowl and whisk, but there’s no discount, as it’s priced at 22,000 yen.

While those prices might be slightly out of reach for us casual matcha drinkers, for tea ceremony enthusiasts and diehard Ghibli fans, these are rare products that’ll be worth spending money on. And if you combine them with these Ghibli New Year’s decorations, you’ll defintely be in for a good year!

Source: Donguri Kyowakoku
Top image: Donguri Kyowakoku
Insert images: Studio Ghibli, Donguri Kyowakoku (1, 2, 3, 4)
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!