I want to carry a mikoshi at the summer festival! What are the spots that foreign visitors to Japan can also experience?

Do you want to carry a mikoshi at the summer festival? Although there is a lot of information about summer festivals in Japan, there is not much information about mikoshi experiences for foreigners visiting Japan.

This time, we will introduce spots where foreign visitors to Japan can carry mikoshi at Japanese summer festivals. We have compiled a list of the meanings of mikoshi and precautions to take when carrying them, so please refer to them.

■Who are the mikoshi that appear at the summer festival?

The mikoshi that appears at summer festivals is an essential part of the festival. A mikoshi was created as a vehicle to carry a noble person, and is used to carry deities and spirits during festivals. The purpose is to temporarily bring the gods out into the area and have them absorb the disaster. The spiritual power of God is enhanced by the “soul swing” that shakes the mikoshi. The act of carrying a mikoshi is a sacred act that wards off misfortune and prays for a bountiful harvest and catch of fish.

Mikoshi are said to have existed since the Nara period (710-794), and were carried on people’s shoulders during the Muromachi period (1336-1568). Mikoshi are symbols of Japan’s historical culture and are familiar to Japanese people. Even in modern festivals, they are cherished as guardians of the region. Also, since the mikoshi weighs more than 1 ton, it can be difficult to carry it easily.

■Can foreign visitors to Japan carry mikoshi at summer festivals?

It is possible for foreign visitors to Japan to carry mikoshi at Japanese summer festivals. This is especially true for those who have been staying or residing in Japan for a long time. However, it is often difficult for foreign tourists who come to Japan for a short period of time.

What makes it difficult for foreign tourists is that they often require advance application. Mikoshis are sacred and must be handled with care as they are very large and heavy. Therefore, avoid jumping in and participating in the festival just because you want to carry the mikoshi.


Basically, advance registration is required.

If you want to carry a mikoshi at the summer festival, you basically need to apply. It is difficult to jump in and participate in the mikoshi, and it is strictly prohibited to carry the mikoshi as you wish. It is important to take control of all the bearers, and prior practice and prior knowledge are required.

If you wish to carry a mikoshi, you must join a mikoshi club or a mikoshi fan club or participate in an approved hands-on event. Also, if you have friends in the area where the summer festival is held, there is a good chance that you will be able to participate in the mikoshi.


There are spots where foreign visitors to Japan can carry mikoshi.

Although the number is limited, there are spots where foreign visitors to Japan can carry mikoshi. In recent years, there has been a shortage of mikoshi bearers in Japan, and some regions are recruiting foreigner mikoshi bearers. There is also demand for inbound tourists, so we are starting to see a movement in the region to welcome them.

The dates of the summer festival may vary from year to year. Please note that there are some years when summer festivals are not held due to social circumstances and other factors. There is also a summer festival where participants are invited to participate in dances and parades, although they are not limited to carrying mikoshi.

■I want to carry the mikoshi! 3 summer festivals that foreigners visiting Japan can also enjoy

Japan’s summer festivals and mikoshi are so attractive that foreigners visiting Japan want to carry mikoshi. There are several reasons why you can enjoy it, such as being able to experience Japanese culture and seeing rare aspects of serious Japanese people.

Next, we will introduce 3 summer festivals that foreign visitors to Japan can also enjoy, which are a must-see for those who want to carry a mikoshi.


【Kyoto】 Gion Festival

The Gion Festival is one of Japan’s three major festivals, and has a rich history that has been going on for over 1,000 years. It is held every year at Yasaka Shrine and is held throughout the month of July. The Gion Festival dates back to the 11th year of the Jogan era (869), when an epidemic spread across Japan, and 66 spears were raised to drive away the disaster.

Currently, the “Yamahoko Junko” is held on July 17th and 24th to remove evil spirits and purify the area. The 34 gorgeous yamahoko floats are worth seeing, and the yamahoko event is the main event that has been registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. In recent years, the Gion Festival has attracted many foreigners, and we are also looking for volunteers.

【Kagoshima】 Ogionsaa

“Ogionsa”, held in Kagoshima Prefecture, is one of Kagoshima’s three major festivals. It was started in the Edo Genroku period (1680-1709) and has its roots in the Gion Festival at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto. The entire area of ​​the city’s main street is turned into a pedestrian paradise, and the approximately 2.5km long shrine parade is a sight to behold. The sight of people parading in procession is truly a summer tradition in Kagoshima.

Ogionsaa is held over two days, the evening festival and the main festival, and is crowded with many spectators every year. We are also looking for foreign helpers, and participation is free. The deadline is around the end of June, so check it out early.

【Hibiya】 Hibiya Oedo Festival

The Hibiya Oedo Festival is a summer festival held as an experiential program of Japanese culture. It is held at the fountain plaza in Hibiya Park, and participants walk around the park carrying a mikoshi. Up to 6 units available
The mikoshi come in large and small sizes, so everyone from children to adults can enjoy participating.

You can participate by simply applying at the reception on the day of the event. The appeal is that you can easily participate as there is no need to prepare or apply in advance. Of course, there is no clothing requirement. However, it may not be held, so it is best to check in advance.

There are other ways to participate in Japanese summer festivals other than carrying a mikoshi.

In Japan, there are other places where you can participate in summer festivals other than carrying mikoshi. The first is the Aomori Nebuta Festival, which is popular among foreign visitors to Japan. Along with the impressive Nebuta festival, you can also participate in the dance. On the day of the event, rent a costume called “Haneto” and participate.

The second is Gujo Odori, a traditional dance that has been around since the Edo period (1600-1868). This summer festival is famous for dancing from early morning until all night long, and both locals and tourists are free to participate in the dancing.

■Points to note when carrying mikoshi at summer festivals

The important thing to keep in mind when carrying a mikoshi at a summer festival is to understand the rules and etiquette for carrying it beforehand. The direction and posture of carrying a mikoshi are determined, and prior knowledge and practice are required to prevent injuries. Mikoshi’s charm will shine when you take command, so don’t forget to keep in mind that you are working as a team.

There are four typical ways to carry a mikoshi: Edomae carrying, Jonan carrying, Boshu carrying, and Chidori carrying. In addition, the “tamafuri” that is shaken when carrying the mikoshi has the role of praying for a bountiful harvest, a bountiful catch, and an exodus from epidemics in the region. Mikoshi is a festival and a portable shrine for the object of worship or spirit. It is important to treat it as sacred, so learn the necessary etiquette and roots.

■It is possible to carry a mikoshi at the summer festival! However, don’t forget to check in advance.

It is possible for foreign visitors to Japan to carry mikoshi at Japanese summer festivals. If you are thinking of carrying a mikoshi, please keep in mind that you will need to apply and practice in advance. One of the reasons why it is difficult for tourists to jump in and participate is because of Japan’s history and culture, which has treated mikoshi as noble beings.

However, there is no rule that cannot be carried out. There are also ways to participate in summer festivals other than mikoshi. Don’t forget to check in advance and be sure to visit Japan’s summer festivals.

Q: If I want to carry a mikoshi at a summer festival in Japan, what specific place should I contact?
A: Please contact the official website of the organization or local government hosting the summer festival. Especially at summer festivals, which are popular with foreigners, there are many organizations and local governments that can provide assistance in foreign languages.

Q: Can I experience carrying a mikoshi outside of the summer festival?
A: In addition to summer festivals, there are spring and autumn festivals. However, many regions in Japan hold summer festivals. Since they are large in size and in high demand, there tend to be more opportunities to carry mikoshi at summer festivals.