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  • Arts & Culture
  • Issue 38

Show Respect

On appreciation, not appropriation. Words by Selena Takigawa Hoy. Photograph by Gustav Almestål. Styling by Andreas Frienholt.

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

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