Hayao Miyazaki Admits He Smoked Around Friend Who Died of Lung Cancer During Eulogy

Many friends and colleagues have gathered to say their farewells to one of the legends in the Japanese anime industry, Isao Takahata, with his close friend, Hayao Miyazaki, delivering an emotional eulogy and remembering the memorable moments they’ve spent together.

While speaking in front of friends and colleagues by the portrait of Takahata surrounded by thousands of flowers on Tuesday, Miyazaki shared the time when they had to ask the late co-founder of Studio Ghibli if he could stop his smoking habit and how he purposely smoked beside him after he quit.

Nine years ago, the Studio Ghibli legend received a phone call from his and Takahata’s personal physician. “If you’re Isao Takahata’s friend, make him quit smoking,” the doctor told Miyazaki over the phone, as translated by SoraNews24.

So, like what any good friends would do, Miyazaki, along with producer and one of the three founding fathers of Studio Ghibli, Toshio Suzuki, sat down with Takahata to discuss his smoking habit and pleaded with him to stop smoking.

Instead of protesting and offering an argument, Takahata listened to the their plea and took what they said to heart.

We thought he’d get angry, making excuses and protesting,” Miyazaki said, adding, “but he humbly said ‘Thank you. I’ll quit.’ And he really did. After that, I made a point of going to stand right next to him when I smoked, and he’d say ‘That smells nice, but I no longer have any desire to smoke.”

However, the 77-year-old Japanese film director was skeptical about what Takahata said, specifically the last part. “Takahata was always a better actor than me,” he added.

Takahata passed away last month from lung cancer at a hospital in Tokyo at the age of 82, according to a statement released by the studio, USA Today reported.

During the eulogy, the Japanese film legend expressed how he expected Takahata to reach the age of 95 and was not expecting this sad news would happen 13 years earlier than that.

Aside from their smoking habits – Miyazaki was also a long-documented smoker – the legendary director cherished other moments he had with his long-time collaborative partner, including the time when he invented a nickname for him: “Paku-san.”

He always hated mornings, and when we worked at Toei Doga, he’d come barreling into the office barely on time. After punching his time card, he’d start scarfing down the bread he’d brought for breakfast, making paku paku (the Japanese onomatopoeia for quickly eating) noises,” Miyazaki said.

He also remembered how they first talked to each other. As translated in the report, Takahata struck up a conversation with Miyazaka, who actually was his six years senior, while waiting for a bus at twilight right after a rain-shower.

He seemed like a kind, wise young man,” Miyazaki said of Takahata.

In another part of his eulogy, Miyazaki went on to share how he had grown dissatisfied with the work they had at Toei Doga. But what probably got to many fans’ heart is the ending part of his speech.

Paku-san, in those days we did our best, and we were truly alive,” he said as he brings his eulogy to a close. “You never gave up. Thank you, Paku-san. Thank you for talking to me 55 years ago at that bus stop after the rain, and I’ll never forget you.”

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons / (Left): Natasha Baucas (CC BY 2.0) | (Right): Boungawa (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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