[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/departures.jpg]]

->''"Death is for the living and not for the dead so much."''
-->-- '''Creator/RogerEbert''', quoting ''Gates of Heaven'' in his review of ''Departures''.

''Departures'' is a Japanese film directed by Takita Yojiro, which won the [[AcademyAward Oscar]] for best foreign film in 2009.

Kobayashi Daigo is a cello player in a classical orchestra in Tokyo, but when his cash-strapped ensemble is disbanded, he finds himself without a job. He decides to give up on music and move with his wife back to his hometown in Yamagata prefecture, in northern Japan.

He settles in his late mother's house, and applies for a job in what appears to be a travel agency. In fact, the job offer had been deliberately advertised in a misleading way: the business is actually that of a mortician, who couldn't find an assistant due to the lingering association of such work with the ''Untouchable'' or ''Burakumin'' caste in Edo-era/pre-1868 Japan[[note]] The lowest of all the castes, the ''Untouchables'' were given the 'spiritually contaminated' jobs that destroyed their moral character and made them and all their children irreperably evil to the point that merely seeing or being in the presence of an ''Untouchable'' could lead you down the path of vice and puppy-kicking. These jobs included collecting shit/'nightsoil' from the towns and spreading it about the rice paddies, gutting and chopping up animals for consumption, making things from animals (e.g. leather), and moving and preparing for funerals and burying/burning the dead. Unsurpisingly, most 17th-century Japanese Christian converts came from this caste as it was a religion that (unlike Buddhism and Shinto) told them that they were as spiritually clean/pure as everyone else and that there was no hereditary spiritual taint upon them and their children owing to their jobs. This was a major reason why Christianity was soon banned and its followers exterminated - it threatened to elevate the ''Untouchables'' to the status of full-citizens, undermining the entire basis of the caste system and by extension Japanese Society itself. ''De facto'' enclaves/districts of untouchables continued to exist well into ''the 1970s'' despite the abolition of the caste system in the 1860s [[/note]]. Daigo, at first reluctant, warms to the job, as he discovers it implies a deep form of respect and care for the deceased. In a heavily ritualized ceremony, his boss and he prepare the bodies for encoffinment, before the eyes of the relatives.

However, he can't bring himself to admit to his wife the grisly nature of his new job. She finds out, eventually, and freaks out, leaving him on his own until he's changed his mind. But by then he feels he has discovered his calling, and keeps the job. His wife eventually comes back, telling him she's pregnant. She once again tries to talk him into quitting, but when an old woman she had befriended dies, she gets to watch her husband at work, and sheds her prejudices.

Not to be confused with the [[Series/{{Departures}} travel series]] of the same name.
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!!Contains examples of:

* BadAssGrandma: The old lady who runs the public baths single-handedly [[spoiler: until she collapses]].
* BenevolentBoss: Daigo's boss is the stuff of employment dreams. For instance, when Daigo's first job in the field turns out to dealing an severely decayed body, his boss gives him a cash bonus and the rest of the day off noting that he would never have given a rookie a job that tough on the first day if he could have helped it.
* [[spoiler: DrivenToSuicide: The Wholesome Crossdresser, though we only hear this from the SeenItAll president.]]
* TheFaceless / TheBlank: Daigo's dad in his memories [[spoiler: until the end]].
* TheFilmOfTheBook: The movie is apparently based on the book ''Coffin Man'', which includes a similarly harrowing first day for the protagonist, who becomes an encoffiner almost by accident after losing his job.
* TheFunInFuneral: The lead character finds himself in all sorts of funerals from the quiet and charming to the loud and raucous.
* FuroScene: Daigo finds out the public baths he used to patronize as a child are still open, and becomes a regular once again. [[spoiler:And man does he '''scrub''' himself after his first day...]]
* HeroicBSOD: After his first day Daigo is in shock, and can't stand the sight of a chicken his wife is preparing (it really didn't help that she mentioned they could eat it as "sashimi" i.e. ''raw''). He ends up needing something "living" to anchor himself, and practically ravishes her in the kitchen.
** When Daigo's wife finds out that he's not, in fact, working at a travel agency but handling corpses she flips out (''"Unclean!!"''[[note]] Shinto and Buddhism, which still insist upon the spiritual 'filth' of being associated with death, remain popular in Japan and cast a long shadow over her culture [[/note]]) and leaves. [[spoiler: She gets better and returns after finding out she's pregnant.]]
* HumiliationConga: Daigo "volunteers" to play the corpse in an instructional video, which includes having to be painted white and wear a diaper. [[spoiler: On top of all that his wife, who doesn't know the truth, finds the video, flips out and leaves.]]
* MeaningfulFuneral: Several of them in the course of the story, [[spoiler:especially the last one, that of Daigo's father]].
* MoodWhiplash: At the beginning of the film, the scene and Daigo's voiceover paints what appears to be a very solemn and serious film. [[spoiler: Then, as Daigo is washing the body of a recently deceased "girl", we are treated to a shocked face and confused groping as he discovers that the girl was actually a cross-dressing boy.]]
* OrphansPlotTrinket: Sort of: The "message stone" that Daigo and his father exchanged [[spoiler: and that Daigo's father still had, decades later.]]
* ParentalAbandonment: Daigo keeps an enduring grudge against his father for going away all those years ago.
** [[spoiler: Daigo's office mate is herself a MissingMom and deeply regrets it. She says (and it's implied that Daigo's dad could have been the same way) that she can't return due to being from a small town where she would be viciously persecuted.]]
* TokyoIsTheCenterOfTheUniverse: Averted. The characters leave Tokyo early on, and most of the film takes place in small-town Japan - Yamagata prefecture, to be precise.
* TrailersAlwaysSpoil: [[spoiler:A particularly devious example, since it ''had'' to have been on purpose with an American audience in mind - Tomeo is clearly wearing a ''boy's'' uniform in that black-ribboned photo.]]
* [[spoiler: WholesomeCrossdresser: The deceased pretty girl in the opening scenes and the receiver of a red dress in the trailers is actually a boy.]]
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