Fans of Spirited Away might not be able to imagine a version of the movie without its titular ending song, “Always With Me“. However, the song was originally supposed to be used for a different film, Rin the Chimney Painter, which Hayao Miyazaki had wanted to work on in the past. Inspired by a children’s book called Kirino Mukouno Fushigina Machi (A Mysterious Town Over the Mist) by Sachiko Kasiwaba, Miyazaki intended on creating a film version of the novel. It was originally published in 1980, and he had toyed with the idea of making a movie adaptation before even working on Princess Mononoke.
Hayao wrote a short proposal to get things started, but it ended up getting rejected and the film was never released. “After that, I thought it would be better to have a more lively character, so I wrote a proposal called ‘Rin and the Chimney Painter.’ It was a contemporary story with a heroine who was a little bit older, but it was rejected as well. It ended up being a story with a scary old woman sitting on the bandai of a bath house. Looking back, all three stories had bath houses in them,” Miyazaki further explained in an interview.
Miyazaki played the song, “Always With Me” often while working on Spirited Away, and later added it to accompany the closing credits. The song was created by Yumi Kimura, a Japanese musician who wrote the song, provided the vocals and even played the lyre in the background of the song. Stirring and memorable, the song captures the whimsical theme of nostalgia found in Spirited Away.