Today's Birthday 5/1

Taylor Thompson-Fuller
Hayao Miyazaki is regarded as an icon of Japanese pop culture

Today's Birthday, January 5: Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki (1941 - )

Hayao Miyazaki, the creator of Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke, has reportedly rejected multiple offers from Hollywood studios for live action adaptations of his work.

With legendary anime movies like Akira and Ghost in the Shell turned, or being turned, into live action movies, Miyazaki is one of a few hold outs.

The filmmaker, regarded as one of the world's best, is known to be fiercely protective of his work, but has allowed a Kabuki show (a Japanese dance drama) to adapt his 1984 film Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

Hayao Miyazaki was born in a town on the outskirts of Tokyo at the height of World War II in 1941.

After leaving school he graduated from Gakushuin University with degrees in political science and economics, but his true passion was drawing and animation.

Starting his career at Toei Animation, he rose through the ranks with the help of his mentor Isao Takahata, eventually leaving to direct his first feature The Castle of Cagliostro.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind was originally conceived as a manga, but was adapted to film after its breakout success.

Valley of the Wind was one of Miyazaki's first films and he regards it as his most important work, according to long-time collaborator Toshio Suzuki.

"Miyazaki truly put his soul, and all of his thoughts, into it," he said.

In 1985 Miyazaki and Suzuki founded Studio Ghibli.

The studio's first film Laputa: Castle in the Sky was released in 1986 and was the highest grossing animation film of the year in Japan.

Kiki's Delivery Service, Ghibli's second film, was adapted from the eponymous novel and was the country's highest grossing film of 1989.

From there the studio's films, and Miyazaki's in particular, consistently broke box office records in Japan and started to be dubbed for overseas audiences.

Princess Mononoke (2001), Spirited Away (2002), My Neighbour Totoro (2003) and Howl's Moving Castle (2005) were all huge hits.

The films also attracted star-studded casts for their overdubs, with Ponyo (2008) featuring Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon and Betty White.

Since 2010 Miyazaki has taken a lesser role in Ghibli films and instead focused on directing short films.