Components of a kodama

Japanese folklore: Kodama are tree spirits in Japanese myth. Though traditionally they look like regular trees, Miyazaki decided to depict them this way.

Studio Ghibli: This is the best film studio in Japan and the ones who created “Princess Mononoke,” where my kodama came from. Folklore and nature are big inspirations for Hayao Miyazaki, who directed this film.

Kawaii: It means “cute” in Japanese and “kawaii culture” is a significant influence on modern Japan. The kodama in the movie are the one touch of cuteness in an otherwise pretty dark movie that lend a touch of lightness without undermining the tone of the film.

Beneficence: The kodama are nothing but kind. They just protect the trees and rattle adorably. Even though humans cut down the forest, they still greet the main character and copy his carrying a wounded man by giving each other piggyback rides. Their kindness is part of Miyazaki’s message about the importance of nature and spirituality.

Plastic and Sharpie: Taking the prompt very literally, my kodama is made of hard, white plastic and drawn on with a knock-off brand Sharpie — basically the two most artificial things on the planet. It’s ironic that they represent a tree spirit introduced to the world by a man who loves nature and hates pollution. Sorry, Miyazaki…

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