Virginia Blake

Written by Virginia Blake

Modified & Updated: 01 Jun 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


Departures is a captivating Japanese film that delves into the world of death, life, and the beauty of impermanence. Directed by Yojiro Takita, this critically acclaimed movie won the Best Foreign Language Film at the 81st Academy Awards, captivating the hearts of audiences worldwide. Departures tells the extraordinary story of Daigo Kobayashi, a cellist who finds himself unexpectedly working as a nokanshi, a traditional Japanese ritual mortician. With its stunning cinematography, compelling storyline, and stellar performances, Departures has left an indelible mark on viewers. In this article, we will delve into 35 fascinating facts about the movie Departures, offering a deeper understanding and appreciation for this cinematic masterpiece.

Key Takeaways:

  • “Departures” is a moving film that won an Academy Award and explores the emotional journey of a man who unexpectedly becomes a Nokanshi, delving into themes of life, death, and cultural traditions.
  • “Departures” captivates audiences with its beautiful cinematography, powerful performances, and exploration of universal themes, leaving a lasting impact that encourages reflection on the fleeting nature of life.
Table of Contents

Box Office Success

The movie Departures was a box office success, grossing over $68 million worldwide.

Academy Award Winner

Departures won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2009, bringing international recognition to the film.

Cultural Significance

The film explores the cultural significance of the Japanese ritual of preparing the deceased for burial.

Emotional Journey

Departures takes viewers on an emotional journey as it delves into themes of life, death, and the meaning of existence.

Unique Occupation

The protagonist in Departures, Daigo Kobayashi, takes up the unique occupation of a “Nokanshi,” someone who prepares bodies for burial in the traditional Japanese way.

Unexpected Career Change

Daigo’s decision to become a Nokanshi is unexpected and leads to a series of transformative experiences.

Inspiring Performance

Actor Masahiro Motoki delivers a powerful and nuanced performance as Daigo Kobayashi, capturing the character’s complexities and growth throughout the film.

Beautiful Cinematography

Departures features stunning cinematography that showcases the beauty of Japanese landscapes and the intricate rituals performed by the Nokanshi.

Music That Moves

The film’s soundtrack, composed by Joe Hisaishi, perfectly complements the story, creating moments of tender reflection and emotional resonance.

Universal Themes

Departures explores universal themes of love, loss, and finding one’s purpose in life, making it relatable to audiences around the world.

Critically Acclaimed

The film received widespread critical acclaim for its storytelling, acting, and exploration of cultural traditions.

Award-Winning Director

Director Yojiro Takita won the Best Director award at the Japan Academy Prize for his exceptional work on Departures.

Authentic Cultural Portrayal

Departures provides a nuanced and authentic portrayal of Japanese culture, particularly in its depiction of the Nokanshi profession.

Emotional Connections

The film beautifully captures the profound emotional connections that can be formed through acts of compassion, even in the face of death.

Balancing Humor and Drama

Departures skillfully balances moments of humor with poignant and dramatic scenes, creating a rich and multi-layered viewing experience.

A Story of Redemption

The film explores the theme of redemption as Daigo confronts his past and finds healing through his work as a Nokanshi.

Exploration of Traditional Rites

Departures provides an intimate look into the traditional Japanese funeral rites and their deeper cultural significance.

Impactful Scenes

The movie features several powerful and emotionally charged scenes that resonate with viewers long after watching.

Cultural Exchange

Departures serves as a medium for cultural exchange, allowing audiences to gain a deeper understanding of Japanese customs and traditions.

Realism and Sensitivity

The film approaches the topic of death with realism and sensitivity, presenting it as an integral part of the human experience.

Thought-Provoking Narration

The narration in Departures prompts viewers to reflect on their own values, priorities, and perceptions of mortality.

Authentic Performances

The cast delivers authentic performances, portraying the emotional and physical demands of the Nokanshi profession with great accuracy.

Journey of Self-Discovery

Departures follows Daigo’s transformative journey as he discovers a sense of purpose, acceptance, and understanding through his work.

Subtle Character Development

The film presents subtle character development, allowing viewers to witness the inner growth and personal revelations of the protagonist.

Cinematic Elegance

Departures is characterized by its cinematic elegance, from the beautifully composed shots to the graceful movements of the Nokanshi.

Exploration of Taboos

The film fearlessly delves into societal taboos surrounding death, challenging cultural norms and opening up discussions on the topic.

Redemption Through Connection

Departures emphasizes the transformative power of empathy and human connection in bringing about personal redemption.

Cultural Preservation

The movie highlights the importance of preserving cultural practices and traditions, even in the face of changing societal values.

Authentic Character Relationships

Departures presents authentic and nuanced relationships between characters, showcasing the complexities of human emotions.

Masterful Scriptwriting

The script for Departures is masterfully written, blending moments of humor, introspection, and drama to create a captivating narrative.

Visual Symbolism

The film incorporates rich visual symbolism, heightening the emotional impact of certain scenes and enhancing the storytelling.

Subtitles that Transcend Language

Departures’ subtitles allow non-Japanese speakers to fully appreciate the depth and beauty of the story, transcending language barriers.

Navigating Grief

Departures explores the complexities of grief and the healing power of ritual, offering viewers insight into different ways of mourning.

Unpredictable Plot Twists

The film keeps viewers engaged with unexpected plot twists and turns, creating a sense of intrigue and suspense throughout.

Lasting Impact

Departures leaves a lasting impact on its audience, prompting introspection and encouraging a deeper appreciation for life and its fleeting nature.

These 35 facts about the movie Departures showcases the film’s profound exploration of life, death, and the human condition. With its emotional storytelling, authentic performances, and cultural significance, Departures remains a truly remarkable cinematic masterpiece.


Departures is an incredible movie that captivates audiences with its powerful storytelling and compelling characters. Through its emotional journey, it explores the themes of life, death, and finding meaning in unexpected places. With its beautifully shot scenes and mesmerizing musical score, Departures transports viewers into the world of traditional Japanese rituals and the importance of human connection. This thought-provoking film leaves a lasting impact, reminding us to appreciate the fragility and beauty of life.


Q: What is the movie Departures about?

A: Departures follows the story of a newly unemployed cellist who takes on a job as a “nokanshi,” someone who prepares bodies for burial in traditional Japanese funerals.

Q: Is Departures based on a true story?

A: Yes, Departures was inspired by the memoir “Coffinman: The Journal of a Buddhist Mortician” written by Shinmon Aoki.

Q: What awards did Departures win?

A: Departures won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2009, as well as multiple awards at the Japan Academy Prize and the Montreal World Film Festival.

Q: What is the significance of the title “Departures”?

A: The title “Departures” refers to both the departure of the deceased from this world and the emotional departures experienced by the main character as he learns the importance of life and death.

Q: What makes Departures a must-watch movie?

A: Departures is a must-watch due to its intriguing plot, stunning cinematography, and stellar performances. It offers a unique and touching perspective on life, death, and the human connection that resonates with viewers long after the credits roll.

Departures beautifully showcases Japanese cinema's ability to captivate audiences worldwide. Music plays a crucial role in enhancing emotional depth, as evident in the work of composers like Junkie XL. Films have the power to explore complex themes, such as family relationships in Marvin's Room, leaving lasting impressions on viewers.

Was this page helpful?

Our commitment to delivering trustworthy and engaging content is at the heart of what we do. Each fact on our site is contributed by real users like you, bringing a wealth of diverse insights and information. To ensure the highest standards of accuracy and reliability, our dedicated editors meticulously review each submission. This process guarantees that the facts we share are not only fascinating but also credible. Trust in our commitment to quality and authenticity as you explore and learn with us.