[ by Charles Cameron — I suppose this could be seen as my version of “kids these days just have no clue..” ]
Since I mistakenly posted this week’s intended Sunday surprise, Afterlife this side of everlasting, on Saturday, I’m continuing my depthful exploration of the burial practices of warlords, gangsters and the like with this post.
When the daimyo Takeda Shingen dies in Kurosawa‘s great movie, Kagemusha, his followers are obliged to keep his death a secret for three years, to ensure clan Takeda’s continuing security. Their daimyo has, however, also instructed them that he wishes to be buried in full armor in Lake Suwa, and his corpse is therefore placed in a large urn covered in rich cloth, and taken out by boat into the mist that hovers over the lake (upper image, above).. the boat then returning to shore minus its precious cargo. The explanation is given that a offering of sake has been made to the god of the lake, and the kagemusha or daimyo’s double continues the pretence that his lord is still alive…
In the TV series Magic City, by contrast, the body of a minor gangster is first cut in pieces, then stuffed in an empty and rusty oil barrel which is welded shut, then dumped unceremoniously at sea (lower image); the oil drum is then shot repeatedly so it will sink, and left to do so — no offering to the gods, no requiem, and no luck, as the corpse and its barrel later turn up inauspiciously somewhere along Miami Beach.
If we are to endure mobsters and warlords, need I say how much I would prefer them to work within the classical Japanese esthetic?