Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Portable Shrine

Being a person from India, It is not so much of fun or new thing for me to see people carrying portable shrines. But I was surprised to see the Japanese carrying shrines. My imagination about Japanese is proven again, as their cultural and modern mix ratio is really high. On one side of the road I see the people try doing something with the Robots and Automobile and at the same time in the opposite side a group of Japanese carrying portable shrines, and cute modern girls give away their denims and wear kimonos walk coolly on the path.

Normally Japanese families are very much attracted to some kind of devotional or the traditional works. My recent and most often seen activity in Tokyo is Japanese carrying portable shrines. These shrines are called Mikoshi, along with it they also put some drum in a cart that can be taken around in the streets. I have also seen several other stuffs in smaller carts pulled by the local kids. As per my knowledge, the Shinto temples are basically referred as shrines here, however in general it is Temple. But the portable shrines are to carry the local god or some spiritual stuff outside the temple for a relaxed rounding. Goddess need to relax, bored of sitting in a place for long time. Portable shrines are taken out by the group of concerned people in the area on a festival day.

I have accidentally have spotted the shrine carrying festival here in Japan few times, however never been inside the temple while the festival was happening. So I cannot make any write up on what exactly they do when they start the shrine carrying function etc. However I had noticed several things along side the shrine carrying event. There was an elderly person wearing minimal underwear and all the people who are participating were in a uniform suit. There was something in Japanese but I couldn’t read it out as I have no knowledge in Japanese. There was a group of females who walked in front of the shrine wearing the kimonos and with a Japanese villager or farmer wearing cap. It was colorful, in fact the shrine was also carried by both male and female mix.

While carrying the shrine the people were following some sequence in their steps as each side of the shrine where carried by couple of people, it becomes mandatory. Hence the sequences are ups and down along with forward leg movements. So, while the shrine looks to have dance and walk pattern while it goes on the road. Probably it is a way of showing their happiness over the festival. I forgot to mention you can hear “sumimasen” [excuse me] very often while walk along with the shrine, as the step involved makes the people stepping on their precedors while moving on the road.
In many occasions with the portable and actual shrines of Japan, I have noticed that on top of the shrine they have a Cock sculpture in a standing position. In the portable shrine this cock will be on golden color, I don’t know whether it is good plated but it looks good. Other than this, the shrine is made of wood and well polished it also got decorated by some clothes and flowers.

As an added information here, I noticed a Shinto shrine during festival time next to the Ekota station. I found there are smaller sized food stalls put inside the shrine compound serving Sea foods and Hot dogs etc. The same kind of stalls were also found near the Ueno are a shrines.

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