Director Yojiro Takita and writer Kundo Koyama examine the rituals surrounding death in Japan with this tale of an out-of-work cellist who accepts a job as a 'Nokanashi' or 'encoffineer' (the Japanese equivalent of an undertaker) in order to provide for himself and his young wife. Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) is a talented musician, but when his orchestra is abruptly disbanded, he suddenly finds himself without a source of steady income. Making the decision to move back to his small hometown, Daigo answers a classified ad for a company called 'Departures', mistakenly assuming that he will be working for a travel agency. Upon discovering that he will actually be preparing the bodies of the recently deceased for their trip to the afterlife, Daigo accepts the position as gatekeeper between life and death and gradually gains a greater appreciation for life. But while Daigo's wife and friends universally despise his new line of work, he takes a great amount of pride in the fact that he is helping to ensure that the dead receive a proper send-off from this state of being. This thought-provoking look at life and death was Japan's submission for the Oscars in 2008.
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