Kamakura Gion Omachi Matsuri

Kamakura Gion Omachi Matsuri

How to shaking

During festivals in Japan there is a custom that involves a large number of people carrying a portable shrine (“Omikoshi”) on their shoulders. Once a year the main shrine's deity is placed on the “mikoshi” for an annual festival and is carried around the town.

Here we will give a brief explanation about the“mikoshi”.

This portable shrine is placed on two poles. These two poles are called “hanabo” (flower poles). Generally 3-5 people are positioned front to back and left to right, for a total of 12-20 people who place the hanabo on their shoulders and carry the portable shrine.Furthermore, the method of carrying the mikoshi varies from region to region. One way is for the shrine bearers to stamp their feet and sing the local region's folk song (“jinku”), which has been passed down the generations, a process which is called “dokkoi katsugi” (roughly translated, “heave-ho bearing”). Another is for shrine workers (“hakucho”) wearing the traditional robes and “eboshi” (brimless headgear), passed down from ancient Japan, to bear the portable shrine and slowly proceed forward (“serimochi”).

Or there is another method where bearers briskly and swiftly move forward in the “wasshoi kasegi” (also roughly translated as “heave-ho bearing”).

No matter what the method of bearing the shrine, the most important role is played by the “hana” (the front end of a pole) and “tori” (the back end of a pole). The “hana” is positioned at the furthermost front-left point and guides the procession. If it were a car you could say they take the “steering” role. The “tori” is diagonally opposite at the furthermost back-right position. You could say that he takes the role of the vehicle's “clutch”. As if changing gears he carefully controls the pace at which the mikoshi moves forward. These two roles are the cornerstones of the portable shrine. If the hana and tori develop a harmonious rhythm then the mikoshi's momentum is stable and the mikoshi's movement becomes a spectacular sight. Thus the shoulders of the hana and the tori play an essential function. Normally only the most skilled bearers can play these roles.

Depending on who takes on these two jobs greatly influences the feeling (power) of the mikoshi.