Miyazaki movies are like pieces of still artwork brought to life. Though the worlds created in the films are often fantastical, there is certainly inspiration for the settings drawn from real places. The small town of Jiufen, Taiwan, has sparked the interest of Miyazaki fans due to its resemblance to the spirit world in Spirited Away, a Studio Ghibli classic. There are definitely similarities between the real-life town and the world created in movie, but Miyazaki himself has denied that Jiufen influenced the design. The bathhouse where Chihiro works in the movie, however, is still believed to have been inspired by the famous Dogo Onsen hot spring in Matsuyama, Japan.
“This has been debunked by Miyazaki, this town is not the inspiration for Spirited Away. The bathhouse was modeled on Dogo Onsen in Japan,” said Reddit user xxruruxx.
Either way, the Taiwanese city continues to attract tourists with its enchanting charm, picturesque streets and shops, and beautiful architecture. See the photos ahead that show why some people believe the town to be Miyazaki’s muse and get a peek inside the special spot.