Joe Hisaishi Symphonic Concert: Music from the Studio Ghibli Films of Hayao Miyazaki

We had to wait 3 years and nearly forgot. A little full circle moment.

Xandra with baby K. in a carrier and the symphonic orchestra in the background

This experience is a prime example of why I love London - to be able to hop on a tube after work to go see a living legend like Joe Hisaishi in concert at the OVO Wembley Arena!

Joe Hisaishi is a Japanese composer, musical director, conductor and pianist probably best known for his scores on the Ghibli films of Hayao Miyazaki.

If you're not familiar with Ghibli's animated movies like Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Caste, My Neighbour Totoro and Princess Mononoke, to name a few of my favs, you can think of Studio Ghibli as the "Disney Studios of Japan".

Now imagine if all your favourite Disney music across all classic Disney movies being accredited to one single composer. In Studio Ghibli's case that man is Joe Hisaishi.

As a big Ghibli fan this concert was such a special experience, and to think we almost didn't make it!

Joe Hisaishi addressing the audience with a mic in front of the symphonic orchestra, his image being live broadcast on the big screens in the background as well
Joe Hisaishi with the symphonic orchestra

The concert was 3 years delayed due to the pandemic & sickness. So when the time came around again this year, we had completely forgotten.

It was Friday morning, and we were still in bed. Jay was looking at Instagram and goes "Hey look my friend went to an anime concert" showing me the video. I'm listening "Hmm it's beautiful, I don't recognise it". Then the next song "Oh yeah, that's Ghibli"

Jay pauses.

"Wait. That's not that concert we were supposed to go to right?"


"Oh shit, maybe you're right!"

Jay looks up the details "Oh no, it was"

Disbelief. We waited 3 years to miss it like that?!

Luckily it turned out we had tickets for that evening!  

We scrambled to find someone who could look after T, but baby K had to come with us. A friend warned us they didn't allow backpacks - well I hoped the baby and carrier didn't count as a backpack!

We were just going to try, because I was not going to let this opportunity slip after waiting 3 years. Like excuse me, but this baby wasn’t even conceived when we got the tickets!

Xandra and baby K with little ear defenders on at the concert

I would be ready to leave a the first cry because at the same time I would also not want to ruin anyone else's experience. But I felt we deserved a chance at least.

Thankfully no one made a fuss. The security was super understanding when they saw the baby stuff in the backpack. The people sitting next to us had an older kid with them and were kind and encouraging.

Also shoutout to that person who was coughing without covering their mouth. Sir, you should have probably stayed at home - and I really hope you at least got yourself tested - but I appreciate you taking on the role of public enemy number 1.

It definitely took any heat off me and baby K whenever he got a bit unsettled in the beginning. Being able to breastfeed while in the carrier is simply OP and baby quickly fell asleep and peacefully slept through the entire concert.

It was a long wait, but Joe Hisaishi and the orchestra did not disappoint. Spirited Away is my favourite movie and the segment in the video below is one of the favourite scenes in the movie.


This scene gets me every time.

It takes me back to a little cinema in the Netherlands, where I watched Spirited Away when it premiered end of 2003.

I was in my late teens, my mother had passed away earlier that year.

My parents had been divorced since I was 3 years old, and they had no other children together, so most of my childhood I spend with my mum it had just been me and her.

The weight of that hit me after she had passed away. I remember agonising over it, the thought that anything that would slip my mind, would be gone forever. Because who would remember all those times when it had been just me and her. Despair at inevitably losing her again, feeling like even her memories would slowly slip through my fingers.

And then those words appeared on the cinema screen.

Nothing that happens is ever forgotten, even if you can't remember it

That translation might actually not be 100% accurate, but I didn't know any Japanese back then and I remember that English subtitle like it was yesterday. It was perfect.

Friday was one of those moments that felt like something coming full circle. I am so grateful we got to experience this together, with our little +1, a core memory I will cherish forever.