October 20, 2008

Yokosuka Mikoshi (Portable Shrine) Parade
Wow! I'm glad I finally dragged myself to Yokosuka Naval Base to see it! I've been to neighborhood matsuris where at most-I saw three mikoshi portable shrines accompanied by a few taiko drummers. But this is totally different! All the neighborhoods in Yokosuka city are invited to parade together beginning around the Yokosuka Chuo train station, down the main street before entering the base's smaller gate and continuing to where the festivities are, next to the Bowling Center.
There's a lot of noise, food booths on and off base and a truly fun crowd interested in experiencing and sharing each others' foreign culture. It gave me happy vibes as me and my friends, Tomo and Masumi, wandered around eating hamburgers and interacting with base visitors. One leader even grabbed me and tossed me into the line of people carrying the mikoshi. After a few bumpy minutes, I thanked him and resumed spectating, (I already did my mikoshi duties last year for three grueling city blocks, thanks!) I was also really stoked to see a lot of Americans. I'm guessing many are newbies that were wondering what the heck a mikoshi was because I answered a few curious gaijin's questions.
74 mikoshis in all were spiritfully carried before ending up in a parking lot. Behind me there are dozens of them still beating drums while in front of us, the parade continued for hours. Here's a video that captures the mayhem:

Yokosuka Naval Base, Yokosuka, Japan

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