“Okuribito” the hearty movie about Death

  • How many people do you know would enjoy talking about death? Yet this award-winning film Okuribito [Departures] has touched the hearts of all who has watched it with this heavy topic.
    Okuribito (or Departures) is a story about an unsuccessful cellist searching for a new job in his hometown, and was indoctrinated into being an encoffiner. Through tears and laughter, we see our protagonist having to deal with the dead, society’s stigma, and his own past, to finally find catharsis in his life.

    Below in this article, you can learn more about the 7 ways to enjoy Okuribito, and not let the exploration of death turn you away.

    1. Heavy topic, in hearty tone

    Death is seldom a light topic for conversation, yet the movie sets a light tone by fusing seriousness together with amusing moments, to make us laugh and cry. The story becomes layered towards the back too, without getting you lost in its storytelling. The main music theme helps set that tone of farewell in a calming tone too.

    2. Visit an unknown world

    What exactly does an encoffiner do? Enter into the world that many classifies it as a “dirty job”, and let this movie show you how methodical and respectable this profession can be.

    3. There is Death, there is also life

    Because there is death, it is difficult. But precisely because it’s difficult, it is called life. Yes, part of the line comes from the movie, as it so elegantly describes the appreciation of life itself. Even if one passes away, he/she passes on the memories, history, or traditions to the next generation who will live by his or her own story.

    4. Facing mortality

    We often avoid the topic of death, because it reminds us our own mortality. This film shows that death is nothing to be feared or shunned away. In fact, it shows that it comes in various forms, and can sometimes involve laughter and appreciation.

    5. Is it wise to throw into the river,
    an octopus that is teetering on the brink of life?

    Yes, it is.
    Don’t ask why. That’s not the point here.
    Wax on, wax off, people.

    6. Kizuna

    Make no mistake, death is only the beginning. (What? Are we on the right movie?) If we appreciate things more after losing them, then losing someone is the beginning of where we strip ourselves of all facade, and realise the visceral relationship we have with the deceased. That can be a point of realisation of kizuna, the Japanese word for bonds/relationships.

    7. Arigatou. Sayonara.

    These are two of the most sentimental and deeply meaningful words in the Japanese language, as they hold nuances beyond simple “Thank you” and “Goodbye”. With each ceremony, you will come to understand the complex, touching and heartrending emotions behind these words. And perhaps you may find a profound appreciation of your kizuna with the people around you.