The Borrowers + Yohei Taneda Exhibition Book Review

Posted By yonghow on October 3rd, 2012

This one got buried under a pile of books and whatnot in my room and was only excavated recently – the catalogue for Ghibli’s The Borrowers + Yohei Taneda Exhibition, held at the Tokyo Museum of Comtemporary Art from July to October 2010, the same venue for Kazuo Oga’s Background Art and Ghibli Layout Designs Exhibition.  It opened around the same time as the Japanese theatrical release for Arrietty.

I was unable to attend this in person back then and my friend Charles Santoso mailed me a copy of the book he purchased at the museum. The brilliant exhibition recreates the colorful world of Arrietty and allows the visitor to imagine themselves as 4 inch tall people, surrounded by giant props, as did Arrietty in the film.

(above and below) A ventilation opening at the base of the house becomes as big as a door in Arrietty’s world, and is wonderful reproduced in one of the exhibition pieces.

This exhibition was headed by renowned Japanese production designer/art director Yohei Taneda, who has created many beautiful set pieces in more than a dozen of celebrated films, including Iwai Shunji’s Swallowtail Butterfly,  Hana & Alice ( now available on Blu-ray, Yaay ! ), Tarantino’s Kill Bill 1 & 2, Akunin, GITS Innocence, and many others.

(above and below) The iconic and memorable sets from Tarantino’s Kill Bill films was designed and created by Taneda-san.

(above) Set design from Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost In The Shell : Innocence. (below) Sets from Akunin ( Villain ), winner of the Japanese Academy Film Award in 2011.

If you are interested to read more about Taneda-san’s production design for his films, there are a couple of books available from Amazon Japan, including Trip For The Films and The Hot Set.

(above) There is also a collection of Arrietty background art in the catalogue, but a more comprehensive collection can be found in the Art Of Arrietty book. ( read review here. )

Availability : This book, just like the Kazuo Oga Background / Ghibli Layout Designs Catalogue, is not available in stores or on Amazon Japan. You can order them through Japan’s 7-11’s online store (local shipping only), and I believe they are also on sale at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. For those who are keen to acquire a copy, I suggest Ebay.

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5 Responses to “The Borrowers + Yohei Taneda Exhibition Book Review”


So utterly beautiful. The forms, colors, composition… everything is in harmony.


i will say, especially for a film that was kind of under the radar, and only so-so in the story department, the background and set design in this film were astonishing. one really felt like they were only inched tall, especially the way the made the water, and how even when making tea, the water would bead to the size that we are used to seeing, but in their world was so much bigger. i’m having a hard time putting it into words, but really, it was a beautiful looking movie that if nothing else, captured size and scale perfectly.


Agree with Zack. I thought it was really creative at times – the tennis-ball half light shade was my favourite detail!

As somewhat lacking as the story was, the feel of the world of Borrowers was wonderfully conveyed. That empty kitchen at night – so huge, so threatening!

Charles Santoso

This brought up my memory of the exhibition. I really appreciated the movie when I saw it.. the way they depict scale was just… beautiful 🙂


What a waste to have missed this great exhibition. Thanks again for sending the book Charles ! :]