Visit to a Studio Ghibli Diorama Exhibition

Diorama: Kiki’s Delivery Service (The World of Studio Ghibli’s Animation), Hong Kong)

The photos on this page are from a visit to an exhibition entitled The World of Studio Ghibli’s Animation. This Hong Kong exhibit featured dioramas based on some of animation studio’s most popular anime. It was a pleasant trip down memory lane for fans of director Hayao Miyazaki.

However, there was one flaw with the exhibition. The human characters didn’t look very good. The problem was the human figures had the very smooth features of their animated counterparts, but they inhabited very detailed, textured and realistic settings. The contrast was unsettling. The curators seemed to be aware of this problem and compensated for it by putting some of the human characters in the shadows or by placing the figures so that they faced away from the viewer.

Spirited Away

There were three main dioramas for Spirited Away: the interior of the train, the exterior of the witch Yubaba’s bathouse and Yubaba’s office.

Maggie (a real person, not part of the diorama!) takes the train with Kaonashi (No-face). This was one of the only dioramas that visitors could actually enter.
San outside Yubaba’s bathhhouse
The witch Yubaba’s office
The Kashira (heads) in Yubaba’s office
A detail view of a railing at the Spirited Away diorama.

Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke is my favorite anime. It”s action-packed and gives both sides in the conflict—San and the forest gods versus Lady Eboshi and the residents of Irontown— their own benevolent (though clashing) motivations..

Ashitaka riding Yaku
San and Moro
The Forest Spirit

My Neighbor Totoro

This anime—about two young girls vising the countryside and encountering the magical creatures there while their mother recuperates in hospital— was a breakthrough hit for Studio Ghibli

Satsuki and Mei running home
Diorama detail (seeds and a letter)
Totoro sleeping in the forest

Kiki’s Delivery Service

This is an anime about a young trainee witch, who, as part of her training, has to go to another town and lead an independent life.

Kiki and Jiji at the bakery
Kiki and Jiji and Tombo’s bicycle. Tombo seems to be absent from this diorama, but his shadow is still there.

Porco Rosso

Let’s have Wikipedia sum up the plot of this anime for us: “The plot revolves around an Italian World War I ex-fighter ace, now living as a freelance bounty hunter chasing ‘air pirates in the Adriatic Sea. However, an unusual curse has transformed him into an anthropomorphic pig. Once called Marco Pagot, he is now known to the world as “Porco Rosso”, Italian for ‘Red Pig’ or ‘Red Pork’.”

Diorama: Porco Rosso (Exhibition: The World of Studio Ghibli’s Animation, Hong Kong)
Porco Rosso

Howl’s Moving Castle

This anime is based on Diana Wynn Jones novel of the same name. It tells the story of Sophie, a young woman who is transformed into an old lady by a witch and who then falls in with Howl, a wizard who is trying to avoid getting involved in his kingdom’s war.

Howl’s Moving Castle
The wizard Howl and the scarecrow.

Pom Poko

This is an underrated anime about tanuki (also known as racoon dogs), who rediscover their shapeshifting abilities in order to fight against human encroachment.

Shoukichi, one of the protagonists
The tanuki can shapeshift into objects such as this daruma doll

Laputa: Castle in the Sky

To conclude, here are dioramas based on Laputa: Castle in the Sky.

Pazu and Sheeta trying to escape from the air pirate Captain Dola
The destruction of Laputa

Studio Ghibli Merchandise (other stores)

At the exhibition there was a lot of merchandise available. I didn’t buy anything at that time, but I got a plush doll for my school’s English Corner from a local Studio Ghibli store. In our English Corner, we have a lot of Studio Ghibli DVDs for students to borrow.

A mini-totoro in our English Corner anime section

During a visit to Kyoto, I also stopped by the Studio Ghibli store there. I found the planters quite attractive.

At the Studio Ghibli store in Kyoto
At the Studio Ghibli store in Kyoto
At the Studio Ghibli Store in Kyoto
At the Studio Ghibli store in Kyoto

Photo Galleries

The photos of exhibition are available in higher resolution (2048 x 1365) at:

Three Questions

  1. Why would an exhibition like this be appealing to fans of the anime?
  2. Would the exhibition be of any interest to people who have not seen the anime? Why/why not?
  3. How can the exhibition artists solve the problem of having simple human figures in realistic, detailed and settings?

Art Challenge

Create a diorama! A diorama is simply a three-dimensional model of a scene. People who are into making models as a hobby often create dioramas to showcase their models.

~text and photos by


Return to Artjouer’s Gallery of Artists

2 thoughts on “Visit to a Studio Ghibli Diorama Exhibition

    1. I don’t know where you would find that. If you just need a prop for a movie, stage play or event, you might be able to find that at a props rental company.


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