Directed by Yōjirō Takita
Running time: 130 minutes
The first Japanese production to win an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Departures (2008) is a life-affirming, humorous film directed by Yōjirō Takita which focuses on the traditional Japanese ritual of nōkanshi, where a body is washed and dressed after death. The idea for the film came from lead actor Masahiro Motoki, who wanted to make a film about nōkanshi after reading Coffinman: The Journal of a Buddhist Mortician, an autobiographical memoir by Shinmon Aoki, during his late 20s. Motoki said he was drawn to the subject for its mystery and near-eroticism and studied the practice first-hand from a mortician in preparation for his role. Loosely based on the book, Motoki plays Daigo in the film, a cellist who is forced to look for another job after his orchestra is abruptly disbanded. After moving with his wife Mika (Ryoko Hirosue) back to his hometown of Yamagata, he unwittingly replies to an advert for a job he has seen in the newspaper "assisting departures", presuming it's for a travel agent. Discovering the reality but desperate for work, Daigo secretly accepts his new role, stumbling into this ritualised but feared profession. After first incurring the strong social stigma in Japanese society for those who deal with death, he eventually earns respect and enters into a journey of deep growth and discovery himself.
Reservation is not necessary, but places are limited. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.