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Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) is an aspiring cellist newly hired by a symphony in Tokyo. No sooner than Daigo’s first performance with the orchestra he receives the devastating news that the orchestra will be disbanded. Daigo made the fateful decision to mortgage his future by purchasing a cello that cost well over $100,000. Now he has to break the news to his faithful wife (Ryoko Hirosue). When she asks Daigo what his plans are now, he suggests they move back to his rural hometown Yamagata and start over again. Daigo’s wife smiles and agrees to follow him to Yamagata.
After the couple settles into their new home, Daigo looks for a job. He finds a listing in the newspaper advertising a position that requires little hours, no experience, and centers around helping out others on their journeys. Daigo assumes the position is for a travel agent, but when he arrives at the office, he realizes the job is for an “encoffineer” (Nokanshi) – similar to an embalmer in the U.S., but requires the encoffineer to work in front of the deceased in a ceremony steeped in tradition. The job of an “encoffineer” is not a popular one in Japan and people often look down on the job as dirty. Daigo tries to keep his job secret, but soon rumors spreads around the small town. When Daigo’s wife learns of his new job, she gives him the ultimatum to quit his job or she’ll leave him.
- Departures has won numerous awards including best picture at 32nd Japan Academy Awards and the Best Foreign Language Film at the 81st Academy Awards.
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