Transcending death in Departures (Okuribito): A case study of film, literature and Buddhism in modern Japan

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Abstract

Okuribito/Departures (2008) is a representative example of Japanese cinema on the theme of living and dying, built on the pattern of Japanese spirituality in which the people resist taking refuge in organized religion because they embrace diverse spiritual sensibilities all at the same time. This article situates the film historically within Japanese society, where ancestral worship aided by Buddhist rituals is critical to their cultural identity, and analyses how the book Coffinman/Nōkanfu Nikki was made into a film. It also explores Departures's thematic relationship to modern Japanese literature and other Japanese films, including aesthetic encounters in nature through which a main character attains self-realization, after reflecting on the death of a loved one.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-50
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Japanese and Korean Cinema
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

Keywords

  • Coffinman (Nōkanfu Nikki)
  • Death rituals
  • Funerary Buddhism
  • Japanese spirituality
  • Okuribito/Departures

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