Every August, I break wooden chopsticks into sections and insert them into an eggplant and a cucumber, four each. I fold bright strips of paper into zigzags and attach them to twisted rice straw rope, arranged alongside young bamboo fronds. We place nashi pears on the altar and light incense, then ring a bronze bell. The cucumber is a horse, to convey my ancestors safely and swiftly here from the other world. And the eggplant is a cow, to carry them back slowly after their visit is over, because we wish they could linger. During this time of year, Obon, the boundary between this world and the next is easily permeable, and by performing these rites, by chanting and praying and completing actions in a preordained order, we are easing the spirits’ transition. As This story is from Kinfolk Issue Thirty-Eight Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 39 Learn Lenience We were all young once. Arts & Culture Issue 39 Pay it Forward How to be a mentor. Arts & Culture Issue 39 Be Accountable On youth and responsibility. Arts & Culture Issue 39 Think Back A reexamination of nostalgia. Arts & Culture Issue 39 Grow Up In praise of aging. Arts & Culture Fashion Issue 38 Needle Work In Seoul, the ancient art of tattoo is thrown into sharp relief.