Shimotsuki Matsuri: The extraordinary winter festival that inspired Ghibli’s ‘Spirited Away’

Shimotsuki Festival is held every December in the remote mountains of Nagano Prefecture, Japan. But as well as locals, the festival also attracts visitors from farther afield, all ooking for the magic and fantasy of the world of Studio Ghibli.

That’s because this ancient festival, featuring boiling cauldrons and dancing monsters, has an unlikely and little-known claim to fame: it inspired Hayao Miyazaki to make Spirited Away.

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