A Heartfelt Look into the Beautiful Colors of “Spirited Away”

Posted in Culture by Lessli Duernberger

Hayao Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" (2001) is a mesmerizing animated film that has charmed viewers around the world. Known for its breathtaking animation and captivating storyline, this Studio Ghibli masterpiece has a unique way of weaving colors into the fabric of the story. In this heartwarming blog post, you are invited on a journey through the enchanting world of "Spirited Away," exploring the inspirations behind the film and discussing how the characters' colors contribute to its magical visual language.

A Gentle Stroll through the History of "Spirited Away"

"Spirited Away" is a touching coming-of-age story about Chihiro, a young girl who must find her way through a mysterious and magical realm filled with spirits and supernatural creatures.

 Miyazaki drew inspiration from his desire to create a story for young girls, emphasizing the importance of inner strength and resilience.

The film incorporates elements from Japanese mythology, folklore, and Shinto beliefs, with the captivating setting reflecting traditional Japanese bathhouses. These bathhouses, which historically served as social and cultural hubs, allowed Miyazaki to delve into themes of purification and rebirth, central to the film's narrative.

The Heartfelt Colors of Characters in "Spirited Away"

In "Spirited Away," colors are chosen with care to convey the essence of the characters and their roles. Let's take a closer look at some of the key characters and the colors that define them:

Chihiro / Sen

A young girl with her hair tied back looks up with uncertainty while standing in a soft red uniform

Our protagonist, Chihiro, begins her journey wearing a white shirt with green stripes and red shorts, reflecting her ordinary life before entering the spirit world.

As she bravely explores the spirit world and assumes the name Sen, she dons a soft red (or pink) and white   kimono-like uniform.

 The white symbolizes her pure, innocent nature, while the soft red or pink represents her warmth, love, and caring heart. 

These colors convey Chihiro's unwavering determination and compassion as she navigates the challenges of the spirit world and discovers her inner strength and kindness.


Haku, the enigmatic river spirit, is portrayed with light green hair and white clothing with blue accents.

Green, often associated with nature, growth, and harmony, connects Haku to his river spirit roots and signifies his transformation and development throughout the film. 

The gentle shade of green in his hair and the calming blue accents on his clothing emphasize his mysterious aura and the comforting presence he brings to Chihiro's life.

A young man with moss green hair and a white and blue gi style uniform stands defensivly on a red railed bridge blowing magic petals into the wind.

No Face

A translucent black figure seems to float on a wooden bridge with a red rail. The figure wears a white mask with a slit where the mouth and eyes should be with purple stripes of paint above and below the eyes.

No Face, the enigmatic character with a heart full of longing, has an almost entirely black and white appearance, with a subtle hint of purple on his mask.

The black represents the emptiness and loneliness No Face experiences, while the white symbolizes his yearning for connection and purity.

As No Face's emotions and actions become more intense, his actions and behavior reflect his anger, greed, and corruption, even though his coloration remains consistent throughout the film.

Zaniba / Yubaba

Yubaba and Zeniba, the witch sisters, are distinguished by their elaborate clothing and accessories.

Yubaba, the antagonist, is adorned with dark blue and gold, reflecting her power, wealth, and ambition.

In contrast, Zeniba, her kinder sister, wears more subdued shades of blue, symbolizing her wisdom, introspection, and compassion. 

At a long wooden table with modest treats fit for "tea time", sits a black figure with no face, a small girl in a green and white shirt and an kind, elderly crone with a long nose and thick blue eyeshadow.

The shared color palette highlights their sisterly connection and the duality of good and evil.


A creature sitting atop a large podium motions with a white dish in one of his visible hands. on his bald head sit a pair of black deeply tinted classes and a large, bushy mustache

Kamaji, the kind-hearted boiler room operator, is characterized by his dingy gray sweater and green pants.

 Gray is often associated with stability, reliability, and wisdom, while green can represent growth, harmony, and renewal.

In Kamaji's case, the color choice reflects his steadfast nature and the wise guidance he provides to Chihiro throughout her journey in the spirit world.


Lin is often seen wearing a white and soft red (or pink) kimono-like uniform, similar to Chihiro's, which signifies her role as a bathhouse worker.

Additionally, her hair is a shade of light brown, which could represent her grounded and practical nature.

Lin's character and her color choices reflect her kindness, resourcefulness, and the support she provides to Chihiro throughout her journey.

Crouching under a low door, a woman enters carrying a bowl of tenpura shrimp and rice and a shallow wooden bucket of unknown contents

The thoughtful color choices in "Spirited Away" play a significant role in creating a visually stunning and emotionally rich film.

By appreciating the symbolism behind each character's color palette, we can deepen our understanding of this beloved movie and the heartwarming story it tells.

About the Author Lessli Duernberger

Lessli is a passionate advocate for mindfulness, clean eating, and yoga, drawing inspiration from her background as a former Navy servicewoman and her deep love for Japanese culture. Her connection to Japan's rich heritage, particularly her fascination with Kimono fashion, serves as the driving force behind her blog. Documenting her transformative journey from her starting point in 2021 to her goal of living in Japan for a year, clad exclusively in Kimonos by 2025, Lessli aspires to empower fellow women to pursue their aspirations and uncover their inner beauty and enchantment.

In addition to her captivating narrative, Lessli also shares her insights into the practices of mindfulness, clean eating, and yoga, intertwining these elements with her experiences in Japan.

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