July 16th and 17th were the wake and funeral of former Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. There’s no way Kirby and Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai was not going to attend.
In his column in Weekly Famitsu, Sakurai, who had previously offered his perspective on what sort of man Iwata had been, recalled his experience at the funeral. “Normally at a place like this, one’s eyes go to the photo [of the deceased]. The smiling face of Mr. Iwata surrounded by flowers was a very nice picture.” Sakurai wrote.
At the funeral, Sakurai was given one of the few guest seats – seats reserved for close friends and acquaintances of the deceased – something Sakurai was both honored and humbled by. During the wake, Sakurai noted that he found himself unable to look away from the casket. “Inside there was the still body of Mr. Iwata.” Sakurai mused. “He was probably dressed in traditional white funeral garb, his glasses removed, and his nose stuffed [with cotton]. And today, his body was going to be burned and reduced to nothing. Mr. Iwata would no longer exist in this world.”
Normally, after offering incense, guests are permitted to leave. Sakurai however, chose to remain. “As this was the last time I would be with Mr. Iwata, I wanted to remain there as long as I could.”
Among the many people who came to pay their respects were some that Sakurai had not seen or spoken with in over a decade. And yet, Sakurai noted, he was unsure of what to say. “Many people, especially those close to him, spoke of how the realization that they would never be able to see Mr. Iwata gain just hadn’t sunk in. I feel the same way.”
Sakurai’s writing in his column is often light-heartedly reflective, if not cheerful, but when speaking of Satoru Iwata’s passing, there is a distinct somber tone in his words. Sakurai’s closing words were better than anything I can write here:
In a previous column, I wrote that when someone passes on, for those around them, it’s simply as though a character has been removed from their story, but for the deceased, the entire world has gone away. However, even for other people, Mr. Iwata’s presence was too great to simply call him a character in the story of life.
Mr. Iwata’s world is gone, leaving a massive impression on those around him. Yet, even so, our world continues.
I will not mourn or fall into depression. I will continue to do my work as best as I can. All I can offer is that I complete that which I have to do.
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