送り人 (Okuri-bito or Assistant for Traveler's Departure)
Directed by Yojiro Takida
A cellist Daigo (Dai-chan) lost his job because his orchestra was disbanded. The position of classical musician is quite difficult to get. He knew the limit of his talent, so he decided to give up the profession and go back to his home town in Yamagata, where his mother left him an old house. His wife Mika supported his decision.
The old house was used as cafe once. His mother and father operated the small cafe but one day his father had run off with a waitress who was working at the cafe. Daigo was 6 years old then. Ever since his mother brought him up as a single mother. The mother died years ago while he was studying abroad. He couldn't see her at her deathbed.
Daigo's father was a classic lover and it was he who encouraged Daigo to play cello. Daigo does not know where his father is, what is doing now. He doesn't remember even his father' face. Daigo never forgive his father, who abandoned his family.
In Yamagata Daigo started to find job. He found an ad on newspaper, Help Wanted - an assistant for traveler's departure - NK agency. He believed it was travel agent and visited the company. The company's president (though the office has only one employee a woman secretary) accepted him at once. The president (Shacho) offered him 500,000 yen per month saying he would pay every day basis if Daigo wants. Actually he paid him 20,000 yen that day without any work.
The job as Okuri-bito or nokanshi, was coffining (place a corpse into coffin). Daigo refused to do such kind of job. He has never seen real dead body in his life. Even his mother's, he hasn't seen. How could he do that job. Modern people know nothing about real death. He and his wife were scared even when they thought a fish (octopus) which Mika bought for dinner was still alive.
But the job has started and the first job exceptionally tough
one. An old lady living alone died presumably two weeks ago. It was a great
shock for Daigo.
He couldn't tell his wife Mika what is he doing but anyway his experience continues;
*Death of housewife
Daigo and Shacho were about to leave the husband stopped them. He gave them some funeral sweets and apologized his rudeness, saying that "I have never seen her so beautiful in my life. Thank you very much."
*Death of she-man
Meanwhile Daigo's wife Mika found a video which Daigo played a model of corpse. It was instruction video for professionals - how to clean the body, how to fill the cotton, how to shave the face, etc. She was upset.
"I followed your decision all the time. But not this. This is too much. This is shameful!"
"Why shameful? Everyone dies, You die, I die. Nobody escape death."
"If you don't stop this I will go back to my parent's." Mika left him.
*Death of teenage girl
"No, this is not my girl. This is not she. Look at this picture, this is she. She had lovely face, with black hair, not such stupid dyed blond hair. Do it again!"
The husband blamed his wife.
A boy who was in full of bandage said,
His old classmate despised him. His wife too. He decided to quit the job.
Shacho knew Daigo's problem. He offered him dinner, blowfish's
testis (fugu no shirako), most expensive, special delicacy.
He recognized Daigo watched the photo on the back wall.
Daigo took the fish. Yes, it was delicious.
Daigo's job continues.
One day he found someone in house. Mika came back. Mika reported him she was pregnant. She pleaded him to quit the job for their baby's sake, Just then, his mobile rang. "What? Oh, Yes, I see. I will come immediately."
Mika looked Daigo with blaming eyes. Daigo said,
Mika and Daigo used the sento daily. Daigo knew the lady from
Daigo is doing her make-up and Mika watched his job for the first time. She began to understand something.
Daigo found that the old man who was regular customer of the
sento was working at crematory.
Daigo and Mika walked the riverbank. Daigo gave Mika a stone
"Lovely story. Who told you this story?" Mika asked.
"My father." Daigo replied.
One day a telegram was delivered. The receiver's name was Daigo's mother. Mika opened the telegram which told Daigo's father's death.
Daigo refused to see his father at first, but went to him after all, with Mika.
His father lived alone at fishing harbor's small room. All his belongings was in a single box. Daigo tried to remember his face from his memory.
Enjoy the film!