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The movie Spirited Away has the title in Japanese as 千と千尋の神隠し, which means Sen and Chihiro Spiriting Away. This movie is about the Chihiro), a ten-year-old girl who enters the spirit world while moving to new house and try to find a way to free herself and her parents from this spirit world.

How does this movie justify its title, Sen and Chihiro Spiriting Away?

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    Like this: “Hi, I’m Hayao Miyazaki, and I can give my movie any title I want, thanks for asking.” – Paul D. Waite Apr 7 '17 at 11:09
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    it doesn't need to "justify" it. movies can be titled anything the director/producers want ... – ell Apr 7 '17 at 17:05
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    It does not mean Sen and Chihiro Spiriting Away. A closer rendition would be "The disappearance of Sen and Chihiro". – James K Apr 7 '17 at 20:57
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    @JamesK is right. “Sen and Chihiro Spiriting Away” would be something like 神隠している千と千尋。 – David Moles Apr 7 '17 at 22:40
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    Congratulations, this question is the winner of the corresponding topic challenge. – Napoleon Wilson Apr 10 '17 at 1:57
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From Merriam-Webster, spirit means

the immaterial intelligent or sentient part of a person

and

to carry off usually secretly or mysteriously

Spirited Away is a clever play on words, referencing how Chihiro enters the spirit world. She gets carried off her own world, and she becomes a spirit.

For reference, Spirited Away is not a literal translation. Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi literally means hiding in the spirit world or hidden by the gods, and in other languages, the movie was distributed with other titles, such as Chihiro's Journey.

Oh, and also, if you're wondering about the Sen and Chihiro references, check out my other question!

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    I think 神隠し literally means "hidden by the gods", or "hiding with the gods", where gods would have the nuance of animistic spirits. "hidden by/hiding in the spirit world" also fits. – Darren Cook Apr 7 '17 at 12:17
  • Disclaimer: I don't know japanese at all! I'm just quoting what the wikipedia page said in portuguese – BlueMoon93 Apr 7 '17 at 13:01
  • It's called Le Voyage de Chihiro (Chihiro's Journey) in French too. – Matthieu M. Apr 7 '17 at 13:40
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    WWWJDIC gives “mysterious disappearance; being spirited away” for 【神隠し】. – David Moles Apr 7 '17 at 22:39
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If something is "spirited away" it means that it has been removed without anybody noticing. This is exactly what happens to Chihiro in the film after she is separated from her parents. At the same time, the place she is "spirited away" too is the land of spirits, giving the title a double-meaning of sorts.

As for the "Sen and Chihiro" part, these are the names that Chihiro is referred to over the course of the film. Chihiro is her real name and Sen is the name given to her by Yubaba.

So, Spirited Away (or Sen and Chihiro's Spiriting Away) is a film about a young girl who is spirited away to the land of spirits and is referred to by two different names throughout, and the title reflects that.

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    So, I thought that spirited away means that they move from spirited world back to human world. – A J Apr 7 '17 at 9:05
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    @AJ, ...ahh. Speaking as a native English speaker, I'm accustomed to the meaning described in this answer. – Charles Duffy Apr 7 '17 at 20:22
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To spirit away means to mysteriously disappear.

The term apparently comes from older times. When a person's disappearance went unexplained, people would attribute it to being taken away to the spirit-world by spirits/gods/whatever.

In the movie, Chihiro is literally "spirited away" to the spirit world.


By the way, 神隠し "kamikakushi" does not mean "kidnapping", as stated in the top answer.

It is the combination of

  • 神 "kami" = "god(s)"
  • The nominalized (noun) form of 隠す "kakusu" = "to hide"

A good translation is "disappearance (due to unnatural/unknown causes)" or "(a person's) spiriting away"

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