Kobayashi Daigo's big dream was to become a cellist for a renowned orchestra. To fulfil said goal he even invested a lot of money into a really expensive cello, but even that didn't help him -- the orchestra he played in for a living dissolved. Jobless he returns home with no bright future as a cellist. His wife remains passive upon hearing the news, but is quite surprised discovering how much he had invested in the cello. He decides to sell the cello and thinks of moving back to his home town, his wife agreeing to everything passively. And as soon as they've installed themselves in his home town, he searches for job offers, quickly finding one in the newspapers. It's described as 'Assisting Departures'. Thinking that this refers to a travel agency he immediately pays the agency a visit for a job interview, but quite a surprise awaits him there.
This is a visually stunning movie. A beautiful work of art.
It's a glorious movie to watch, with the changing of the seasons seamlessly woven into the story and the charm of the ceremonial practice it focuses on: encoffination. It's both a reverential and humorous look at death and its taboo place in society, while managing to stay on the right side of sentimentality and tackle the subject with the sense of respect it deserves.
Honestly, it's one of the best movies I've watched within the last 10 years. It's heart-warming, funny, witty, wise, heartfelt and profound.