Japanese novelist goes out in anime-style in coffin illustrated with characters he created
Recently deceased writer/anime series creator wanted his funeral service to be a little different.
Fans of Japanese light novel author Tomohiro Matsu were saddened to hear of the Fukuoka native’s passing away on May 2. Not only had Matsu had been enjoying repeated cross-media successes, with both his Listen to Me, Girls. I Am Your Father! and Mayoi Neko Overrun book series both being adapted into anime and manga, at just 43 years old his death was sudden and startling.
As is commonly done with entertainers and celebrities in Japan, the statement of sympathy released by Matsu’s publisher simply referred to the cause of death as “illness,” without going into further details as to the exact nature of the disease. However, his memorial service was a much more open affair.
Japanese funeral customs consist of a series of rituals and ceremonies, most held on different days. Before the deceased is cremated, a ceremony called the kokubetsushiki is held, in which the coffin is displayed and friends and family have one last chance to say farewell.
Since cremation is the norm in Japan, Japanese coffins tend to be less opulent than their Western counterparts. However, these photos, shared by illustrator Hiroshi Aizawa, one of those in attendance at the kokubetsushiki, show that Matsu’s casket was much more than just a simple wooden box.
Adorning the casket were illustrations of the characters that appear in Matsu’s stories, along with messages of thanks from those who had known him in life.
Among the offerings placed atop the casket was a staff cap from Comiket, Japan’s largest dojinshi event, which Matsu served as an organizer for since his high school days.
In case you’re wondering, yes, it’s ordinarily considered poor form to snap photos of the coffin at a kokubetsushiki and then tweet them to your followers. However, the attendees were told by Matsu’s surviving relatives that photography was not only be allowed, but encouraged, as was sharing the pictures on social media.
“They told us ‘He wanted his send-off to be like a fun festival,’” reports Aizawa. “This is the birth of a new genre: the ita-coffin,” he continued, pointing out that even as he leaves this world, his dearly departed friend had one last creation in him: the ita-coffin.
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