There is something cool about having our office located in the home of one of the Ghibli’s animation films. We are now based in a town of Seiseki Sakuragaoka of Tama City, Tokyo. It is the green and hilly town in which Ghibli’s “Whisper of the Heart” or “Mimi o Sumaseba” was set. Remember the film with the commuting cat on Keio Train Line? Seiseki Sakuragaoka is only 28 minutes from Shinjuku on Keio Line.
Produced in 1995, fans of Whisper of the Heart continue to visit Seiseki Sakuragaoka, reliving the scenes in the film. Devoted fans spend an enormous amount of time doing research on which part of the town appear in the film and report on their blog. This blogger suggest that the best time to visit Seiseki Sakuragaoka is the sakura cherry bloosom season.
In case you haven’t seen this cult following film, Whisper of the Heart is a romantic film written by Hayao Miyazaki, the founder of the Ghibli Studio.
The story evolves around 16-year-old Shizuku Tsukishima who lives in a danchi apartment on one of the many hills in Seiseki Sakuragaoka. That danchi is not far from our office and from the office window, we can see how hilly the whole town is! The danchi in the film is modeled on Aiko Danchi.
Being a bookworm, Shizuku borrows books from the local library regularly, and soon notices that all the books she reads have been checked out by a man called Seiji Amasawa. Shizuku meets a young man, later revealed to be Seiji, who often irritates her.
One day Shizuku finds a cat riding a train (!) and follows it to an antique shop on the top of the hill. It happens to be Seiji’s grandfather’s shop. She is mesmerized by a cat figure called “The Barron”, which was not for sale for a mysterious reason.
Finding out that Seiji is going to Cremona, Italy, for a two-month apprenticeship with a master violin-maker, Shizuku decides to test her talents as a writer by writing a fantasy novel evolving around her friendship with The Barron. Shizuku passes her novel to Seiji’s grandfather as her first reader, and learns that The Barron was the memory from his romance with a German girlfriend who he met after the World War Two.
When Seiji returns to Japan, he takes her to his favorite spot on the top of the hill in Seiseki Sakuragaoka. He proposes to her while looking at the sunrise, that they marry when he returns home from a full apprenticeship in Italy.
If you are a fan of Whisper of the Heart and planning to visit Seiseki Sakuragaoka, make sure to pick up the Whisper of the Heart Map from the station!