I want you to know my real name. It's Chihiro.
- —Chihiro to Zeniba
Chihiro Ogino (荻野 千尋 Ogino Chihiro), referred throughout most of the film by her nickname Sen (千 lit. "one-thousand"), is the ten-year-old core protagonist of the Japanese animated film Spirited Away.
Chihiro/Sen is a ten-year-old girl who has brown hair, brown eyes, and rosy cheeks. She is very petite and has a childish appearance, and a quite-pudgy face. Her attire includes a white medium-sleeved T-shirt with bright green stripes, bright red shorts, white socks and sunshine yellow sneakers. While working in the bath house, she is barefoot and wears a bright red and white work uniform with a tasuki cord for tying her sleeves up.
In the first part of the film she wears her standard outfit, but soon she takes off her shoes and socks for walking better on the wooden floor of the Bathhouse. After staying a little barefoot with only her striped shirt and shorts, then she changes with her work outfit, putting the uniform on and continuing to stay barefoot. For going outside the Bathhouse she wears her work uniform with her own shoes, but strangely without wearing the socks: in a scene when she's preparing to go outside she is seen taking her removed shoes and socks from the Sootballs, wearing only the shoes and taking socks on her hands and then in her pockets. When she returns in the regular world she will finally again wear her regular outfit as it was in the beginning of the film, with obviously also her white socks.
Chihiro's growth into a capable individual is a core factor to the movement of Spirited Away's plot. During her adventure in the Spirit World, she matures from an easily scared girl with a childlike personality to match her age to a hard-working, responsible, and brave young girl who has learned to put her fears aside for those she cares for. To protect her friends and rescue her parents from a spell that has turned them into livestock, Chihiro sheds her former personality and adapts to her environment to become a courageous, quick-witted and reliable girl.
In the beginning of the movie, Chihiro is shown to be a childish, easily scared, and whiny girl. However, after her experiences at the Bathhouse and the Spirit World, she matures into a capable young adult.
It is mentioned by director and creator Hayao Miyazaki that Chihiro has 'lost' all her memories of the Spirit World following her exiting of the tunnel. However, according to Haku's promise, he and Chihiro will meet again someday. This may or may not be referring to Chihiro's eventual death and transformation into a spirit. However, Zeniba's quote, "memories are never forgotten, they are just difficult to recall", suggests that Chihiro could, potentially, remember her experiences at The Bathhouse and the Spirit Realm. Regardless, the fate of Chihiro and Haku's relationship remains unknown and is up to audience interpretation.
- The name Chihiro means "thousand" (千) (chi) and "search, seek" (尋) (hiro).
- Part of the name Chi (in Chihiro) and Sen both use the same Japanese kanji (千), which means '1,000', but are different readings of the same character.
- Chihiro's surname Ogino means "reed, rush" (荻) (ogi) and "field, wilderness" (野) (no).
- In some countries, Chihiro's surname Ogino was changed to Senko, so that viewers who do not have a deeper knowledge about the Japanese language wouldn't be confused when her name in the bathhouse was changed to "Sen".
- In an interview regarding Chihiro's character design, Hayao Miyazaki informs the audience that "[He] created a heroine who is an ordinary girl, someone with whom the audience can sympathize. It's not a story in which the characters grow up, but a story in which they draw on something already inside them, brought out by the particular circumstances. [He] wants [his] young friends to live like that, and [he] thinks they, too, have such a wish."
- Chihiro was based on a ten-year-old girl: the daughter of a friend of Miyazaki's. This girl also made Miyazaki continue working after promising retirement from filmmaking after Princess Mononoke (1997).
- One of the main character of Chihiro is similar to the one of the main characters of Belle from Beauty and the Beast (1991 Disney film) shared with the same character and design alike.
- (To Zeniba) "I want you to know my real name. It's Chihiro"
- "The wind's pulling us in."
- "I'm not going in there! It gives me the creeps!"
- "Wait for me!"
- "Wait a minute."
- "What's up with him?"
- "I'm dreaming! I'm dreaming!"
- "I'm see-through!"
- "It's just a really bad dream."
- "They did turn into pigs. I wasn't dreaming."
- "Please! I gotta get a job here!"
- "Yes, ma'am."
- "Just a minute, sir."
- "He's a good person."
- "I knew you were good!"
- "We would like to go to Swamp Bottom, please."
- "Wow, you're a big baby."
- "Staying in this room will make you sick!"
- "Germs! I got germs! See?"
- "Shut your mouth!"
- "Lin, you know Haku?!"
- "There aren't two him, aren't there?"
- "I don't feel so good."
- "Which ones are you?"
- "Bad dream."
- "No, you can't!"
- "Haku, we're falling!"
- "What are those weird buildings?"
- "What are those stones?"
- "My flowers are dying!"
- "Kamajī lit the boiler already?"
- "How long was I asleep?"
- "I hope Dad hasn't gotten too fat."
- "I'm going to go look for Haku!"
- "Where is Haku?"
- "Are birds chasing him?"
- "Fight 'em!"
- "Come on!"
- "Haku, you're bleeding."
- "It's just paper."
- "Thank you, Mr. Boiler Man."
- "Please, I just want to work!"
- "Please, can't you just give me a job?"
- "Everyone, I need my shoes and my clothes, please."
- "I think I can handle it."
- "I guess my parents will have to wait."
- (To Yubaba) "Thank you for everything, Granny."
- (To Zeniba) "Granny, I can't remember anything at all. Haku could be dead already, and I'm just sitting around here. My mom and dad could've been eaten for dinner."
- The Art of Spirited Away, page 54