Departures Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Departures Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Emotional release

The moment when Daigo gives up his musical instrument is seen as being a symbolic event. For him, his musical instruments signified stress and a lot of pressure put on him by those around him. Because he was good at playing an instrument, many expected him to become better and to surpass those who were before him. When this didn’t happen, Daigo felt as if he has failed at being a successful person. The act of giving up his instrument symbolizes his emotional release and the fact that he returned to a more balanced state of mind.

Return to the important aspects of life

The film presents many journeys that a man ends up doing in his or her lifetime. The first journey that Daigo takes is the one from Tokyo to his hometown. For him, this journey has a symbolic meaning because it signifies his return to a more simple life and the rediscovery of what is important and valuable in one’s life.


The funeral preparation for a deceased person consists in performing a series of complex ceremonial rituals that have a symbolic meaning. The first ritual performed on the dead body is the washing of the dead body. Through that ritual, it is believed that the soul is cleansed from all the desires, pains and suffering the person experienced during the time that person was alive. Apart from being washed, the face is also shaved if need and make-up is applied as well, all elements having a ritual meaning.


When Daigo returns home after performing his first funeral ritual, he re-discovers his old cello that he used when he was a small boy. The re-discovery of the cello has a symbolic meaning because it makes Daigo think about his father who left him when he was a small boy. For Daigo, the cello he used as a child is a link to his past, a happier time when he was protected by his parents and when he lived a content life.


When Daigo performs the final ritual for the owner of the bath house which he knew closely, Mika is also present. During the ceremony, she is able to see how much the work Daigo does has a positive impact on the family of the deceased. Apart from being a cleansing ritual for the deceased person, is also a ritual that helps the family cope with the passing of a member of their family. At the end of the ceremony, Daigo tells the members of the family to each wash the face of the deceased and then say their final goodbye. Maiko takes part in the final part of the ritual as well and her acceptance to wash the face of the deceased woman symbolizes her approval of her husband’s profession. From that point, Maiko will no longer pressure her husband to give up his job and will begin to understand the importance of his work. Acceptance

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