Festivals through the perspectives of strangers: A case study of festivals and Mikoshi clubs in the Tokyo metropolitan area
Takafumi Misumi (PhD Student, Graduate School of Sociology, Kwansei Gakuin University)
This paper examines how the mikoshi clubs changed the mikoshi parade in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The “Mikoshi parade” is a ritual that is held every year in more than 300 locations around the Tokyo metropolitan area. According to Japanese folkloristics, a "mikoshi" (portable shrine) is used for the transportation of God, and the mikoshi parade is the ritual through which God travels between the areas of neighborhood associations on a mikoshi.
There are over a thousand “mikoshi clubs” (the collective name given to groups of mikoshi aficionados who carry the mikoshi during the mikoshi parade several times a year) in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The Mikoshi parade of the Tokyo metropolitan area is less of a regional event in that about 50% to 90% of people responsible for shouldering mikoshi are mikoshi club members, while local residents and friends make up the rest of the participants. The members of mikoshi clubs do not live in the same community and share no common religious beliefs. This suggests that the current form of the mikoshi parade in the Tokyo metropolitan area may hold a different meaning compared to the parades discussed in previous studies, which asserted that the mikoshi parade was held to strengthen community bonds.
folkloristics, festivals, mikoshi clubs, neighborhood association, Tokyo metropolitan area