A mikoshi is an ark built to house a deity. For most of the year, mikoshi are kept in shrines. However, during festivals, the mikoshi are taken from the shrines and carried around to celebrate and give thanks. Japanese autumn festivals are similar to our Thanksgiving. The mikoshi was carried in this year's Houston Thanksgiving Day Parade to symbolize cultural diversity, celebrate the friendship between the United States and Japan, and to give thanks for our many shared blessings.
The mikoshi used this year was a gift from the citizens of Yokkaichi City in Japan to its sister city, Long Beach, California. Volunteers from Long Beach brought the mikoshi to Houston and helped train and lead the many volunteers needed to carry the 1800-pound mikoshi. Mikoshi are heavy, but the effort is shared; the shared burden of the mikoshi is essential to the spirit of the festival.
The many participants are wearing happi coats, which are traditional festival costumes in Japan.
Photo credits: Debbie, Marco, and Rose.