Traveling through Japan, you may encounter, especially around Shinto shrines, large groups of people gathered around teams carrying on their shoulders a heavy, lavishly ornate palanquin, a mikoshi. The teams of mikoshi bearers are wearing special costumes, traditional Japanese coats called happi, inspired by the Edo period firemen attire and decorated with the symbols of the team. This is a mikoshi parade, one of the main events taking place during a Japanese traditional Shinto festival, a matsuri.
What is the significance of this event? Technically, the mikoshi is a transportation vehicle for the local kami (deity). When the mikoshi is taken out from the shrine, it is believed that the spirit of the kami enters the mikoshi and then it is paraded, with overflowing enthusiasm, around the neighborhood.
And as you can see from this photo, the team of mikoshi bearers includes a lot of people, from strong young men (who are actually bearing the weight) to teenagers, elders and… girls. And, a few years ago, I even had the chance to be a Mikoshi bearer…
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: