The DepartureVIEW EVENT DETAILS
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*Japanese with English Subtitles
Ittetsu Nemoto is not your typical Buddhist priest. A 42-year-old former punk rocker, he loves riding his motorcycle and dancing all night at clubs. He lives with his wife, mother, and baby son at a temple in the remote countryside of Japan—and there, he’s become famous for his work in combating suicide.
Japan has a high suicide rate, and Nemoto’s approach to fighting it is unique. In a retreat he leads, called “The Departure,” he has men and women who are struggling with suicidal thoughts write down the three most important people in their life, the three most important objects, and three wishes for the future, on small scraps of paper. He then has them remove each scrap of paper one by one, simulating how, when we die, we have to say goodbye to everything in our lives. The retreat ends with everyone lying in the moonlight, white cloths drawn over their faces. For Nemoto, and so many of the desperate people who come to him for help, imagining death reminds us of why we should live.
This work, though, has increasingly come at the cost of his own health and family life, as he refuses to draw a line between his patients and himself. The Departure captures this priest at a crossroads, when a spiral of self-destruction leads him to confront the same question his patients ask him: what makes life worth living?
Asia Society Hong Kong Center, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty