Sophie Bolich

Sugar Maple Hosting Studio Ghibli Pop-Up

Costume competition, art show and craft cocktails for event inspired by Japanese films like 'Spirited Away.'

By - Sep 15th, 2022 04:47 pm
Sugar Maple. Photo taken May 29th, 2013 by Nastassia Putz.

Sugar Maple. Photo taken May 29th, 2013 by Nastassia Putz.

An early Halloween pop-up that encapsulates all the best parts of the holiday — delicious treats, a dose of nostalgia and the element of surprise — is coming to Sugar Maple, 441 E. Lincoln Ave., in Bay View.

The four-day Studio Ghibli pop-up and art show will run from Thursday, Oct. 20 through Sunday, Oct. 23 at the bar, featuring themed cocktails and snacks, selfie-stations, merchandise, a costume contest and more.

Festivities will kick off Oct. 20 to usher in the holiday and honor the legacy of the Japanese animation studio, founded by animator-director duo Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. Films like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro are products of the studio and will be part of a selection screened throughout the weekend.

Come Oct. 20, the bar’s interior will be transformed for the Ghibli Gallery art show. The large, colorful canvases that line the walls today, part of a 52-painting series by bar owner Adrienne Pierluissi, will be temporarily stowed to make room for the gallery.

Along with new art, Pierluissi said she plans to incorporate elements of the “visually stunning” movies in the form of Ghibli-themed decor and selfie stations. Thursday’s event will also feature ramen bowls.

“It’s going to be a very Instagrammable event,” added bartender and cocktail connoisseur Xay Matabele.

Friday, Oct. 21 will bring a Totoro Toss competition (also known as cornhole).

A costume competition is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 22, with prizes for the best-dressed guests. There will also be a vendor fair, where local artists will peddle handmade items inspired by Ghibli studio.

Kids are welcome on Sunday, Oct. 23 for family-friendly arts and crafts.

Three Ghibli-inspired cocktails will be available throughout the four-day event: two regular and one non-alcoholic with the option to add THC.

The bar’s cooler, which already possesses an impressive diversity of craft beers, will further expand to feature sakes and selections from Japas Cervejaria, a brewery by three Brazilian-born women of Japanese descent.

The enthusiasm of Sugar Maple’s staff is palpable. The team started planning about two weeks ago, and has scarcely had another thought since, said Matabele, whose sister introduced her to Ghibli films.

“We have events that are after this that we also need to be thinking about,” she said. “But we’re just so invested in this event. I think that you’re gonna be able to see that.”

Harrison Browning co-runs the cocktail program with Matabele and shares her enthusiasm for the films.

“You meet people and you realize that almost everyone loves these movies,” said Browning, who studied animation for four years in school. “When you’re learning how to animate, Studio Ghibli is one of the hallmark gold standards of how to do it.”

Sugar Maple is accepting submissions for the vendor fair and art show. Interested parties can inquire via Instagram direct message or reach out to and


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