A Member of The Association of Graveyard Rabbits


Friday 2 December 2011

Friday's Funerary Customs ~ Japanese Nokan

The Japanese ceremony of preparing the deceased for the journey to the afterlife, is called Nokan and the people who perform this ceremony are known as Nokanshi.

The Nokanshi's job is comparible to that of the mortician, however the Nokanshi has to perform the entire ritual under the watchful gaze of the deceased's family. The Nokanshi has to ensure that the family are unable to observe any naked body part of the deceased, as they undress, wash, prepare and re~dress their loved one in ritual clothes.  
Firstly the face of the deceased is prepared, a man will be shaved and later make~up is applied ~ this is done regardless of gender. The body is then washed and dressed in specially prepared clothes for the funeral.
Preparing the garments for the deceased

Finally they will lay the person in the coffin, first the body and then the head.
The entire ceremony is performed with beautifully flowing ritualistic movements that highlight it's grace and elegance. The Nokan's extreme perfection is upheld at all times and done with the utmost respect to both the family and the deceased.

The work of the Nokanshi, may appear to be an honorable task to most people in the Western world, but to a Japanese person this is regarded as one of the worst jobs you could have. Therefore many Nokanshi are secretive and evasive when speaking about their occupation, which is considered to be worse than that of a gravedigger. Handling the deceased, means that a Nokanshi has to be careful not to contract certain diseases and so they have regular vaccinations against such things as hepatitis.

Nokanshi training

Click on the bold type for a link to an article that gives an insight into the life of a Japanese Nokanshi .

A trailer for the Award Winning film Departures  about the life of a Nokanshi can be seen by clicking on the bold type.

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