Charles Cowling

I had an email today from someone in Atlanta, Georgia USA. Is there any funeral home in this area, she wondered, that practises nokanshi. I explained that I couldn’t help: the GFG is UK-based. Then I googled nokanshi. And discovered that it is the ritual preparation, in Japan, of the body for cremation.

There’s a fuller description of a nokanshi here.

And you can see how it’s done in the opening scene of the film Departures. (I put some trailers for Departures up on this blog a while back.) Now, I see, someone has posted the entire film on YouTube in 10-min chunks. It’s incredibly beautiful. Okay, the nokanshi discovers halfway through the ritual washing that the beautiful dead girl is actually a boy. No matter. You get the point.

There are no subtitles on the (presumably pirated) YouTube version. But it’s easy enough to follow. And it really is a lovely piece of work.

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Janice Hutton
11 years ago

A really beautiful piece of film, showing true dedication by the funeral director. How I would love to learn how to do this!

11 years ago

a beautiful film – thank you.

Tony Piper
11 years ago

If you’d like to watch it in higher quality you can buy or rent it on iTunes at or from Amazon at

11 years ago

Outstandingly beautifull, thank you for recomending this great piece of cinema!