As Japanese mourners file into the funeral parlor, shrouded in silence and laden with flowers, Felix Steinkemper, dressed in a dark suit, stands ready to assist.

It's a scene the 30-year-old German undertaker has witnessed hundreds of times: the open casket, the quiet sobbing, the intermittent sighs and the final farewells.

In contrast, it's likely the first time the congregation of mourners have set eyes on a non-Japanese undertaker. Since February of this year, the Dusseldorf native has been working at Nojiri Hall in Fushimi, a city just south of Kyoto that's famous for its sweet sake.