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  • How long was Chihiro in the Spirit World?  It only seemed like a few days: the night she signed a contract; the day she let in No-Face and bathed the polluted river spirit; the day she saved Haku and returned the gold seal to Zeniba; and then came back from Zeniba's (which was night at the time) to the bathhouse (where it was sunny).

    Chihiro's dad said that the package workers had the keys to their new house and could go in to start placing everything there.  But since they were in the Spirit World for at least a few days, wouldn't it seem strange to the workers that Chihiro's family hadn't come for days?  Also, wouldn't it be weird to themselves, since they supposedly don't remember anything and it only appears to be a couple hours to them, once entering their new home and finding every package there without the workers?  How would they find a logical, non-magical, solution to explain this to themselves?

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    • I have two theories about this.

      1. I like to think that time works differently in the Spirit World than in the human world. What felt like days to Chihiro could have been only a few hours.

      2. Remember when her parents were gorging themselves and Chihiro wanders off? By the time she returns, her parents have already become pigs and spirits are in the streets. Yubaba could have returned time for the humans to the moment before nightfall, which is apparently when magic begins to have an effect in the Spirit World. This means that Chihiro's parents would have only realized she was missing instead of transforming.

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    • Also, keep in mind how their car had become overgrown since they were in the spirit realm. I think that the message from the workers was very old, possible months or even years, as it takes an extremely long time for trees to grow around an object like that. I think the message was old, and that the workers probably just thought that they had gone missing. So maybe time passes very slow in the spirit world compared to the human world?

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    • Iffyguy
      Iffyguy removed this reply because:
      Double page
      15:52, September 22, 2014
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    • Iffyguy wrote:
      I have two theories about this.

      1. I like to think that time works differently in the Spirit World than in the human world. What felt like days to Chihiro could have been only a few hours.

      2. Remember when her parents were gorging themselves and Chihiro wanders off? By the time she returns, her parents have already become pigs and spirits are in the streets. Yubaba could have returned time for the humans to the moment before nightfall, which is apparently when magic begins to have an effect in the Spirit World. This means that Chihiro's parents would have only realized she was missing instead of transforming.

      Per Iffy there, we can safely assume time does flow differently in the human and spirit world. Its also possible that the time flow slowly in spirit world, seeing by the state of their car. As for the workers not reporting them as missing, how would you know that? It wasn't showed the human world after their 'disappearance'.

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    • Miyanlove wrote:

      Iffyguy wrote:
      I have two theories about this.

      1. I like to think that time works differently in the Spirit World than in the human world. What felt like days to Chihiro could have been only a few hours.

      2. Remember when her parents were gorging themselves and Chihiro wanders off? By the time she returns, her parents have already become pigs and spirits are in the streets. Yubaba could have returned time for the humans to the moment before nightfall, which is apparently when magic begins to have an effect in the Spirit World. This means that Chihiro's parents would have only realized she was missing instead of transforming.

      Per Iffy there, we can safely assume time does flow differently in the human and spirit world. Its also possible that the time flow slowly in spirit world, seeing by the state of their car. As for the workers not reporting them as missing, how would you know that? It wasn't showed the human world after their 'disappearance'.

      Exactly! It only showed them leaving.

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    • I think the idea that they were in the spirit world for decades is a depressing thought and not one I imagine the creators would want for their hero - this would remove all positivity and hope with which Chihiro now has as she ventures into her new life (new home/new school). I believe that the tunnel being clear at the start reflects the idea of the spirit world being open and I think her family is deliberately being enticed in (also shown by the reference to the wind trying to blow them in). Also when they get to the other side of the tunnel all the buildings are in pristine condition despite it being abandoned for many years - that and the smell of the food is again there to entice them in (all of which asks the question of why Yubaba wanted Chihiro or her parents but that's a whole other topic...). I agree time works differently in the spirit world but when they return to the real world they have only been gone for minutes or at most hours. The change to the tunnel is the portal closing and the dust on the car is probably due to the wind or maybe just part of the magic that closed the portal.

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    • I never noticed any trees growing up around the car in all the times I watched this. There are species of trees that grow quickly. The princess tree can grow 15 ft in a year. Pines also grow quickly. I think its safe to assume that they were gone for a week or two at least. From personal experience the dirt and leaves on the car would have taken at least that long to pile up, maybe longer considering it looked like summer in the movie. The movers probably dropped the stuff off and left. People pay to have stuff shipped in advance of them often enough that it didn't occur to them the new owners were missing.

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    • Here is a before and after picture of the building when they are driving up to it and when they are driving away.

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    • 144.96.51.113 wrote:

      Here is a before and after picture of the building when they are driving up to it and when they are driving away.

      https://seemsobvioustome.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/tunnel-to-spirit-realm.jpg

      sorry it wouldn't actually post the picture so here's the link.

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    • They were gone for about what I would say maybe 35 years. Because it takes time for all that moss and leaves to grow on the wall and for the wall to be corroded, also as some people have already said, it takes ages for trees to grow around an object (the car)

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    • I think its also possible that the building/site they are leaving may not even be the one they arrived to in the first place, you can see the differences between the two like the fact that the trees surrounding the area don't even seem to be the same ones, or that the buildings appear to be two different buildings, and that at the beginning their is that little stone chracter with a face but at the end it is just a regular stone.  I suppose you could make the argument that the building is in fact the same and the building at the end is just a result of weathering over the course of several years and the construction underneath is now visible after the red paint has been eroded away (we know its a fake building since Chihiro's father mentioned that in the beginning of the film).  I think that the mentioning at the beginning that it was a fake building hints at everything around them being fake as well.  At the end everything is far less glamorous looking than at the beginning likely due to the use of magic, like other users before me its likely that the spirit world uses magic to glomorize itself and make it seem more ideal and "magical" in order to fool wandering humans into its grasp.(The fact that they just so happaned to wander into and abandoned theme park - a place of enjoyment to humans speaks volumes)  I think there's this legend I read where the lost and wandering are more vulnerable to the effects of magic because their thoughts aren't in order and their perceptions are skewed, which is what was happening to Chihiros family(since they were literally lost and couldn't find the road to their home), that and the fact that Chihiro's mom explicitly stated "honey don't take a short cut you always get us lost."  Everyword Chihiro's parents make seem to unkowingly reveal subtle answers to the questions of the audience.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think that for the topic of how long they were in the spirit world, the answer may be that they weren't gone for long at all possibly a few seconds or even hours at most.  My reasoning for this is that from the movie you can tell that spirits and all things magical seem to love screwing with humans.Examples of this being Chihiro's parents being turned into pigs, the disapproval of everyone in the bathhouse at Chihiro's presence(which is only alleviated at the possibility of roasting/boiling her), forcing her to take care of the stink spirit, their refusal to cooperate with her (such as when one of the workers refuses to give her a bath token).  All them are in this constant state of hazing her and her family because they're human and they know they can get away with it (afterall who would stand in defence of a human).  It's only after someone gets to know her personally or that she demonstrates her bravery that they seem to accept her (such as when "Sen" saves them all from No-Face).  Based on the observation that the spirits love messing with humans its possible that the dust in Chihiro's family car and all the leaves littering the top may just be a prank pulled by the spirits as a final farewell to Chihiro and her family as evidenced by when Chihiro's mother says "Is this someone's idea of a joke?"

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    • I never noticed this before but after seeing these pictures I think that the tunnel they entered and the one they left from are two different tunnels too! In the top tunnel, the paint is chipping but there are no marks from the stones like in the bottom picture. Also on the bottom tunnel, the arch has a boarder that (based on similar arches I’ve seen in this style) is raised from the rest of the wall but in the top tunnel it's clearly flat.

      This definitely could have been a practical joke done by the spirits or maybe it’s like Howl’s Moving castle and one door leads to different places.

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    • 169.231.87.101 wrote:

      I never noticed this before but after seeing these pictures I think that the tunnel they entered and the one they left from are two different tunnels too! In the top tunnel, the paint is chipping but there are no marks from the stones like in the bottom picture. Also on the bottom tunnel, the arch has a boarder that (based on similar arches I’ve seen in this style) is raised from the rest of the wall but in the top tunnel it's clearly flat.

      This definitely could have been a practical joke done by the spirits or maybe it’s like Howl’s Moving castle and one door leads to different places.

      I Have been thinking about this for some time, and already from the start of the film I was thinking Howls moving castle. The windows in the first hall they enter are all of the wheel they use to change worlds in Howls moving castle. Also Chihiro looks back and sees three tunnels leading back. 

      I think this might all be play from the directors, assuming that they chose a different path back, leading to similar but different places. 

      The architecture of the building the leave from is, no doubt, completely different. 

      I'd say either the spirit world is playing a trick on them and the car exsist through a parallell world, or maybe a more haunting idea. Maybe it's just s similar car that another family used. 

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    • in my mind its been way more than a few days that passed in the real world. i think it has been much much longer months, perhaps even  years.  i mean look at the before and after pictures of the building. chihiros dad said that the building was fake and that the facade was made of plaster , plaster does degrade  but not that quickly, and plants barring bamboo do not grow that fast. definetely several months if not a few  years could have passed in the time they were in the spirit world. on top of that chihiros parents mention that the car is all dusty inside, it takes months of just sitting with no one touching it for a car to get really dusty and gross inside, and yes i remember seeing the grass and saplings growing up around the car, i watched a tree grow up through an old tractor that sat quietly rusting away in my side yard and that takes YEARS to happen.

      or it could just be magic but the only way you could truly find out would be to ask hayao miazaki himself.

      im basing my theory off of this old japanese (or chinese if my memory fails me) folktale about this guy who travels to the spirit world or the palace of the dragon king or something like that and stays for a few days. after a while he starts missing his family and tells one of the kings daughters that he wants to go home, the princess gives him a box before he leaves tells him very seriously never to open it and sends him on his merry way, he gets back to his home town finds it much changed and confused asks around to try and see what had become of his family and friends, he finds out from a very old man that all his family is dead and a 100 years had passed in his absence, ( a la  Rip Van Winkle) striken with greif he opens the box and is either transformed into an extremely old man or crumbles to dust because the box held  all the years that the had missed in the real world.

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