Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki), is following his dream by investing in a fine expensive cello and playing in an full orchestra. But when the director comes in and says they must dissolve immediately due to lack of audience attendance, Daigo's dreams are chattered in an instant. His understanding wife Mika (Ryoko Hirosue), agrees to move back to his childhood home where they can live in his mothers old home rent free. With great hesitation, he sells his cello as they start their new lives. An ad in the paper needs help in "departures" and it sounds perfect for Daigo, thinking it's a travel agency, he applies. He meets with the owner and is hired on the spot, given an advance and sent home while still in shock over what the position entails. He is to become "Nokanashi" other wise known as an "encoffineer." Daigo can not find the strength to tell his wife exactly what his will be doing.
The next morning Daigo and his boss Ikuei Sasaki (Tsutomu Yamazaki), go to a scene where police have discovered and elderly woman, dead for at least 2 weeks. Daigo can not stomach a decaying body as he watches his mentor respect and gently preform the proper rituals. Daigo is angry and wants to quit the position but Ikuei sees his predecessor in Daigo's soul and encourages him to stay with it.
Daigo must eventually tell his wife what he is doing and others in town find out and look down on him, telling him to get a respectful job. It isn't until a very special woman of the small town, Tsuyako Yamashita (Kazuko Yoshiyuki), passes and Daigo is called to preform the ceremony. They now see the importance of his very special gift, giving way to great admiration from his wife and friends.
2008 - Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - Best Foreign Language Film
Shochiku Company, Ltd., Regent Relasing, Here Films
Director: Yojiro Takita
Writer: Kundo Koyama
Producers: Toshihisa Watai, Toshiaki Nakazawa