Chuin (roughly translated here as "limbo") is a Buddhist term referring to the 49 days after a person's death, during which the soul has yet to depart for its next existence?in short, the threshold between this life and the next. This story depicts the events taking place from the death of Ume?a shamaness who foresaw the future and accurately predicted events including the day of her own death?to the ceremony that marks the 49th day after her passing, as seen through the eyes of Sokudo, a Zen priest.
Six years earlier, Sokudo had married a woman named Keiko, bringing her to the temple to live with him. Two years later Keiko suffered a miscarriage. The modern-minded Sokudo prides himself on his "practical" nature, using a computer to manage records of the temple's visitors and searching the Internet for information. Yet while displaying this hunger for scientific and technical knowledge on the one hand, he also accepts and shows interest in the new-age religion that one of his temple's followers begins to dabble in. When his wife confronts him with questions like "What happens to people when they die?" and "Will Ume be able to become a Buddha in her next life?" he shares words from Buddhist teachings with her, but refrains from making statements of any certainty.
Following Ume's death, Sokudo discovers in talking with his wife that she has been preoccupied more than he knew with thoughts of their lost baby, and that she had been going to see Ume. He hangs a tapestry his wife has woven from twisted strands of paper in the main hall of his temple, and together the couple hold a ceremony to pray for the ascent of Ume and their lost child to Buddhahood. In this collection, the title story is printed alongside Asagao no oto (Sound of the Morning Glories), a short story about a woman, raped twice and pregnant against her will, who visits a female magician to pray for the repose of the aborted child.