The Unique Movie “Departures”

My family went to Nagano, my husband’s hometown,  last week.    As I mentioned at   his mother passed away in July.    Most funerals in Japan are done with Buddhist rites unless people have a strong faith in other religions.    After that, relatives regularly hold Buddhist services for the dead.   They are held on the 7th and 49th days after death, one year after, two years after and at ever increasing intervals after.

On the 49th day after the death of my mother-in-law, a memorial service was held among my relatives.  A Buddhist monk and relatives chanted sutras and burned incense  for her.   It is concidered that a deceased person arrives in heaven after 49 days of long journey.   I think she lives happily in heaven now.

The  Japanese film “Departures” came to my mind while listening  to the Buddhist sutra.   This is  very unique and touching movie.  It is not a love story, action nor suspense.  It describes about a  encoffiner, a funeral professional who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life.   It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 81st Oscars in 2009.     I was moved to tears.

I Attended a Funeral

Because my husband’s mother died last saturday,
I went to Nagano where is far from here.
As I get older, people around me have passed away one by one.
I have needed to face to face with death gradually.
His mother lived a modest and frugal life in a rural area.
She got weaker little by little and died in her sleep without pain.
I think she was happy.

I attended the rite of placing a dead body in a coffin for the first time.
It is considered that the dead people make a long journey to heaven, crossing the river.
So we shrouded her in a white outfit and put goods
such as food, printed paper coins, amulet in her bag to cross the river.
Her favorite or precious things were placed with her.
I feel the final farewell at the crematorium is the hardest time for me.

Deceased family looks very busy after someone’s death.
I asked my father to prepare his own funeral before death.
He said “Don’t worry! I will live more 20 years.”
But He is already over 80 ・・・