Wood Spirits Are Calling

Hand me downs in the form of clothes, toys and books is common in our household with three small children, and recently there has been a re-hashing of movies from the now nine year old’s collection. One in particular has taken the toddler’s fancy and also mine.


My Neighbour Totoro is a Japanese animation from 1988 created by Studio Ghibli that tells the story of two sisters who have friendly interactions with wood spirits upon their move to rural Japan. It’s a sweet story that shows the bond between two sisters and childhood imagination that is enchanted and enriched by the natural world.

Mei chasing the wood spirits




The simplicity of the home and lifestyle in the film is very appealing to me at a time when I am questioning all the ‘stuff’ in my own home and life. The endless washing, cleaning, driving, working and entertaining of modern family life is constant and draining. In the film the family’s possessions are sparse and their home life is fairly subdued. Aside from the practical appeal of this (less stuff = less mess = more time) the aesthetic is also appealing.


Another aspect of the film I like is the village community that is multi-generational and has a garden at the heart. Belonging to a community garden somewhat full fills this role for me but I would love to live closer and for it to be a hub for the community to share and look after eachother (work in progress!).

Mei and Satsuki eating some cooking made by a neighbour they call ‘granny’

The film is also a reminder of a child’s prerogative to be amongst nature and learn and grow alongside it and for me as a parent to encourage and provide the opportunity. I hope my children encounter their own wood spirits whilst out in nature.

Marcy found a baby hedgehog at the community garden