A few weeks ago, I wrote about the movie “Departures”. The main character (Daigo) takes on a job as a “Nokan-shi”, a person who performs the ritual of “encoffinments” which consists of washing the body, putting on a new kimono and putting make up on the face. Daigo didn’t know what exactly the job was about before going in for an interview – he answered a classified ad entitled “Departures”, thinking it must be some kind of travel agency, only to discover the true nature of the job. The employer somehow talked him into “trying the job for a few days”. When he came home, he told his wife that he found a job, but he didn’t tell her the whole truth. He let her believe that it was a job at a wedding chapel. For a while, he sneaked around to conceal the truth as he was not ready to tell her, which created comical scenes in the movie, but in their lives it created distance between the couple. When Daigo’s wife finally found out what he has actually been doing, she was furious. She asked him why he didn’t tell her, and he said “I didn’t think you’d approve”. Sure enough, she didn’t think it was a good profession for her husband, and she gave him an ultimatum that it will be either life with her without that job, or vice versa. Continue reading
I heard that the Japanese movie “Departures” has finally opened in the U.S. in the past few days. The Japanese title is “Okuribito“, meaning a person who sends out (something or someone). This movie won an Academy Award for best foreign language film, though I don’t believe many Americans know of this film (and it will most likely not become a blockbuster movie). I watched it about a week ago after borrowing the DVD from my colleague. I cried on several occasions. I was watching it alone, and there were some scenes that made me think of my grandparents, both of which passed away in their own home, at different times. It made me wonder if they were taken care of as well as the ones that were shown in the movie when they were “encoffined” i.e.: being placed in the coffin.