NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

2007/3/26

お神輿 O-mikoshi Omikoshi / Mikoshi (portable miniature Shinto shrines)

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A mikoshi is a type of portable float that the divine spirits of Shinto gods temporarily inhabit when they are transferred from one shrine to another or taken outside during shrine festivals.

Most mikoshi are in the shape of a miniature shrine. Also there are mikoshi shaped as sacred trees, phallic-shaped ones, or ones with figures on them. Usually a mikoshi weighs about 1 ton, with larger ones weighing about 2 tons or more.

The origin of these shrines is the altar made for harvest festivals, when pre-historic peoples of Japan lived as hunter-gatherers. After people settled and started to live by agriculture, shrines became the place where the gods settled. Later, the mikoshi became the vehicle for the Shinto gods, and took the well-known shape it has today.

It is believed that mikoshi spread all over the country around the Heian period, along with the belief in the divine spirits of the Shinto gods.

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