Winner in the Foreign Language Category at the 81st Academy Awards, “Departures” debuted in theatres across America on May 29th.

The film tell the story of Daigo, a man who by chance becomes a “Nokanshi,” a person who prepares bodies for burial, and through a series of events becomes drawn deeper and deeper into the art of the profession. While on one hand displaying the stereotypes surround such a profession in Japan, the film also has a certain humor and a strong emphasis on the importance of life and love. If you haven’t seen it yet, then what are you waiting for?
(Official site:

After watching, the next step is to come to Yamagata, where the scenes of “Departures” will come to life. Located in the Northern region of Japan, Yamagata is blessed by both beautiful scenery and traditional culture. The Shonai Region, which was the primary filming location of the film, is a short, one hour flight from Tokyo.

The beautiful Mount. Chokai, which is also know as the “Fuji of Dewa,” appears in many scenes in the film and can be seen all over the Shionai Region. The mountain appears in the background of a scene where Daigo play his Cello, which was filmed at “Gakkogawa Riverside” in Yuza Town. Visitors will find a chair, where they can recreate the film’s scene for themselves.

Mt. Chokai at the Gakkogawa riverside

The building that would become Daigo’s workplace in the film, was originally a Japanese style restaurant known as “Obata.” Nearby, visitors will find the Hiyoriyama Park, a symbol of Sakata City, which overlooks the Sea of Japan and blooms full of cherry blossoms in the spring.

“Obata” as “NK Agent”, Sakata

The Ishidatami stone roadway, the traditional restaurants, and the Maiko Tea House, where one can still see Maiko’s perform, are a few of the examples of the scenic locations in Daigo’s hometown.

Ishidatami stone roadway

“Tsurunoyu” is a bath house in Tsuroka with more than 70 years history. Its traditional flavor, which is preserved in the film, attracts visitors from all over Japan.


The building that would become Daigo’s house in the film, the “Kazu Snack Bar,” can still be found in Kaminoyama City.

Kazu Snack Bar

For more information about the filming locations of “Departures” and Yamagata, please contact us the Yamagata Prefecture Tourism and Products Association.
Phone +81-23-647-2333
Or visit our website at: