Business Daily (Kenya) - - LIFE: MARKETING -

A23-year-old un­der­taker won a con­test at Ja­pan’s big­gest fu­neral expo that tested an­cient skills in the rit­ual dress­ing of the dead.

“I prac­tised ev­ery day to pre­pare for this com­pe­ti­tion,” said a smil­ing Rino Terai af­ter her win over three other fi­nal­ists.

“I took videos and made im­prove­ments by ask­ing my­self, does this look beau­ti­ful? Am I treat­ing the de­ceased kindly?”

Ja­pan’s Shinto re­li­gion be­lieves that the soul is im­pure shortly af­ter death and the process of dress­ing a body — usu­ally in front of close rel­a­tives only — pu­ri­fies the de­ceased spirit be­fore it is sent off to the “other world.”

Ja­pan’s age­ing so­ci­ety has in­creased de­mand for undertakers with spe­cial skills, said Kimura Kouki, head of the Okuribito Acad­emy.

“There are about 2,000 undertakers whose ex­per­tise is in dress­ing the de­ceased, but their skills vary a lot,” he said.

“I wanted this com­pe­ti­tion to be a way to spur undertakers to im­prove their skills.”

The four con­tes­tants dressed live hu­man vol­un­teers lay­ing on mattresses ar­ranged on a stage. They were ob­served by three judges as fu­neral mu­sic gen­tly played in the back­ground.

The four were judged on the grace of their move­ments and their abil­ity to dress the body with­out re­veal­ing too much bare skin.

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