Drop-dead beautiful: Japan undertakers tested on how to dress a corpse

TOKYO, Aug 24 (Reuters) - A 23-year-old undertaker won a contest at Japan's biggest funeral expo on Thursday that tested ancient skills in the ritual dressing of the dead.

"I practiced 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."

13 PHOTOS
Japan's undertakers compete in funeral prep challenge
See Gallery
Japan's undertakers compete in funeral prep challenge
A funeral undertaker dresses a model during an encoffinment competition at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 24, 2017 REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A model and clothes are seen on a stage during an encoffinment competition at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Judges check a model after a funeral undertaker dressed the model, during an encoffinment competition at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Judges check a model after a funeral undertaker dressed up the model, during an encoffinment competition at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A funeral undertaker dresses a model during an encoffinment competition at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 24, 2017 REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A funeral undertaker and a model greet spectators during an encoffinment competition at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 24, 2017 REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A funeral undertaker prays next to a model during an encoffinment competition at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Funeral undertakers change clothes on models during an encoffinment competition at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 24, 2017 REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A funeral undertaker prays after dressing a model during an encoffinment competition at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 24, 2017 REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A funeral undertaker puts a traditional sock on the foot of a model during an encoffinment competition at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 24, 2017 REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A funeral undertaker dresses a model during an encoffinment competition at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A funeral undertaker dresses a model during an encoffinment competition at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Japan's aging 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.

"The movement of their hands were really beautiful," Akane Matsuda said after watching the competition.

RELATED: Japan's priest robots

10 PHOTOS
Japan's priest robots
See Gallery
Japan's priest robots
A 'robot priest' wearing a Buddhist robe stands in front of a funeral altar during its demonstration at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A 'robot priest' wearing a Buddhist robe chants sutras at it beats a wooden fish during its demonstration at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A Buddhist monk looks at a 'robot priest' wearing a Buddhist robe during its demonstration at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A 'robot priest' wearing a Buddhist robe holds a stick to beat a wooden fish during its demonstration at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A 'robot priest' wearing a Buddhist robe chants sutras at it beats a wooden fish during its demonstration at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A 'robot priest' wearing a Buddhist robe stands in front of a funeral altar during its demonstration at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A 'robot priest' wearing a Buddhist robe stands in front of a funeral altar during its demonstration at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A 'robot priest' wearing a Buddhist robe chants sutras during its demonstration at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A Buddhist monk looks at a 'robot priest' wearing a Buddhist robe during its demonstration at Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo, Japan August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

(Reporting by Megumi Lim, editing by Darren Schuettler and Nick Macfie)

 

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.