Omikoshi in Nishi-Ogikubo (西荻窪の御神輿)

Last week our friend To., a culture-maker and neighborhood leader, invited me to participate in “Omikoshi” (御神輿). Of course, at the time, I had no idea what it was, so I said sure. The husband demurred somehow.

“Omikoshi” (御神輿) involves parading a super-heavy shrine around the neighborhood, amidst lots of chanting and grunting. For four days after, my shoulders have been bruised and sore. On the plus side, it involves group drinking, costumes, a huge communal dinner in the street, and some men wore “fundoshi” under their “hapis.” That basically means they are not wearing pants, although you only see the “fundoshi” when they’re sitting on the sidewalk (from the front, it looks like a colorful speedo).

The religious significance is, of course, lost on me. It reminded me of a a group version of carrying the cross, and something about “worshipping false gods.” As you can see in the above photo, it involved lots of sweating before the bruises appeared.

Also below, you can see To. leading the neighborhood kids in a preliminary event.

Here’s drinking mid-way with Ka. and Ya. (Yes, I am “experimenting” in my older years with legal intoxicants).

Finally below is a video of the final chanting, grunting and carrying. Thanks, Os. for the video!