Shitaya Matsuri, Sanja Matsuri, 2010.
The mikoshi is a portable shinto shrine, a vehicle for the gods that inhabit a particular shrine. During matsuri like Shitaya and Sanja, the shrine’s devotees carry the mikoshi and the gods inhabiting it around the neighborhood in a spirit of excitement and revelry. Just as the gods are set free, the people’s spirits are liberated, and a kind of sacred chaos ensues.
Omikoshi brings the spirit of the Japanese people to the surface like nothing else. From the morning of the event participants drink sacred sake in celebration and reverence, working themselves into a unique fervor. The atmosphere is charged. People laugh, cry, scream and fight. The people of Tokyo are typically calm and reserved, but mikoshi unearths that which is deeply buried, bringing everything out in a divine spectacle of human emotion.