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Totoro - Teaching Japanese Family Life and Shinto Religion

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Kayla Kolean
Topic replies: 31
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Totoro - Teaching Japanese Family Life and Shinto Religion

I recently watched My Neighbor Totoro, and Studio Ghibli animated film, about two girls and their father who move to the countryside in Japan. This film was released in 1988 in Japan.

This film is one which several of my students have also seen. While many of the things in the story may be outdated (like technology), the film itself is a great view of traditional Japanese family life, customs, and countryside living. The film also has a supernatural adventure aspect with creatures from Japanese folklore and reflects aspects of the Japanese-based religion called Shintoism. 

This film would be a great introduction to Japanese family relationships, traditional Japanese architecture, and Shintoism. 

Have you seen this film? Would you use this in your class to teach these concepts, or maybe ones no mentioned above?

If you teach animation, do you show any of these films from Studio Ghibli to show Japanese animation techniques?

Kayla Kolean


Betsy Ures
Topic replies: 55
Topic Posts: 6
Nature in Totoro

This movie would be great to watch after researching Shintoism. The relationship between the characters and nature in the film is unlike most American animations. Nature, spirits, and humans are all interacting in Totoro. The father and Nanny accept the basic belief that there are spirits in the forest.