As in many other cultures, the year in Japan is cadenced by festivals, called matsuri (祭). O-mikoshi is a kind of festival, usually taking place at the end of the summer, to thank the gods for the harvest.
This kind of festival is organized by local religious communities in a lot of towns or villages. It is actually more like a parade, rather than a religious procession, during which a golden arch is carried across the streets by a group of people. O mikoshi wo katsugu (御神輿を担ぐ), as it is said, means “to carry the mikoshi”. And since the mikoshi is not that light, it is a rather tiring activity. Moreover, the mikoshi is not carried silently, but the people shout along the way (like wasshoi! -wasshoi! -wasshoi! …) to pace the march. The mikoshi is preceded by the temple’s representatives and those who carry it are simply the people living or working in the neighborhood. Of course, o-mikoshi is also a good excuse to drink and get together with friends.
The o-mikoshi is really a peculiar atmosphere that is worth enjoying!