Studio Ghibli founders Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki teamed up with an Okinawan distillery to help create Totoro-inspired branding and packaging for their latest product — a whiskey called Ukiyo.
Japanese news and public relations company PR Times announced the partnership on its official website early last week. According to SoraNews24, Ghibli’s founders designed the brand design for Ukiyo, which includes the kanji for “Ukiyo” (drawn by Suzuki) and a stylized illustration of Studio Ghibli’s official mascot, Totoro (drawn by painted by Miyazaki).
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The Japanese distillery, Kumesen Shuzo, located on Okinawa, a small island off the southern coast of mainland Japan, specializes in the production of sake, sometimes also translated as Japanese rice wine. Their latest product, a rice whiskey called Ukiyo, or “floating world” in English, is aged in American white oak barrels and has an alcohol content of 50%. Kumesen Shuzo describes the flavor as “spicy like mint and cinnamon” with “a concentrated sweet and sour taste reminiscent of bitter chocolate” and a “lingering tropical flavor.” It recommends drinking the whiskey straight or sparkling with soda water and mentions that it “goes well with smoked dishes like beef jerky and smoked salmon, as well as chocolate and vanilla ice cream.”
Miyazaki’s Totoro placed on a whiskey label also serves as an official seal or stamp denoting the artist’s work. Studio Ghibli fans will immediately recognize this creature as the main character in one of the studio’s most beloved films of all time, My Neighbor Totoro. Totoro is the adorable and furry spirit of the forest that the film’s main human characters, Mei and Satsuki, befriend after Mei is led into the forest by two little spirits. My Neighbor Totoro debuted in 1988 to rave reviews and continues to be loved by viewers to this day. The small drawing on the Ukiyo label can be found in the left corner of the yellow circle.
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Miyazaki’s latest feature film, The Boy and the Heron, was released in Japanese theaters in July 2023 and has grossed more than 7 billion yen in Japan. The film premiered in the US at the New York Film Festival and debuted in US theaters on December 8. Although The Boy and the Heron was expected to be his last film with the studio , but it seems Miyazaki is ready. retired and working on his next project.
Ukiyo is currently sold at Kumesen Shuzo Okinawa Blue stores in Okinawa as well as through the Kumesen Shuzo online store. One 700 ml or 23.7 oz. bottle costs 7,800 yen (about $53 USD).
Source: PR Times, SoraNews24