A skillful female Japanese undertaker recently bagged the top prize at a contest in Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017, Japan’s biggest funeral exhibition.
Rino Terai, a 23-year-old undertaker, defeated three other finalists in the contest on the ancient art of dressing the dead on Thursday, Reuters reported.
The Tokyo event, which is based on the Japanese ethnic religion of Shinto, celebrates the art of purifying souls by making the bodies of the deceased look beautiful.
According to Shinto belief, the human soul is left impure upon death and dressing up the corpse purifies the spirit before it makes its journey to the afterlife. The practice is usually done in front of family members.
Okuribito Academy’s head Kimura Kouki stated in an interview that more and more undertakers with special skills are in high demand due to Japan’s aging society.
“There are about 2,000 undertakers whose expertise is in dressing the deceased, but their skills vary a lot,” he was quoted as saying. “I wanted this competition to be a way to spur undertakers to improve their skills.”
In the finals round of the contest, the participants worked on volunteers as funeral music played in the background. They were scored by three judges based on their movements and their skills in dressing up the bodies.
“I practiced every day to prepare for this competition,” Terai said after winning the competition. “I took videos and made improvements by asking myself, does this look beautiful? Am I treating the deceased kindly?”
Feature Image via Youtube / Reuters