Mikoshi Festival

In this memory, I am five years old. There are many festivals in the neighbourhood of our community of tiny half-dilapidated apartments since this is one of the older part of town. The local shop owners in the area organize a number of different festivals in summer to entertain the residents.

Many of them take place in the night, but there is one that is designed for children and happens during the day. It is called a mikoshi festival where the local children together carry a wooden box – mikoshi -that is supposed to hold gods inside and walk around the neighbourhood.

Last year, it was just me from my family, but this year, my little brother is also participating. On the day of the festival, my mother helps us wear the blue festival vests and put twisted towels on our heads. I love this festival outfit. It makes me look cool. My little brother is also excited. But his reason is different. He is happy because he feels like a big boy to be able to participate in the festival with me and other older kids.

Once ready, we all go out to meet up with others from the community. Parents stay on the side while all the children gather around the mikoshi, then following the instruction of the festival host, carry it together as a team. The festival begins!

“Wasshoi! Wasshoi!”

We all chant as we start walking down the street.

“Wasshoi! Wasshoi!”

I walk with my two best friends, and my brother follows in the back with other little kids.

After a while, we come to the end of the street, steaming under the blazing sun.

The festival host comes around and claps his hands telling everyone how well we have done the walk. Now it is time for a treat. Adults walk between us, giving out cans of cold juice in our hands. We all wait for our turns impatiently. As soon as I get mine in my hands, I open the can and take a sip. The touch of the cold drink on my throat is so refreshing that I feel all the walk has worth it even just for this treat.

Later, when we are back home, my brother and I are still intoxicated by the festival magic, talking eagerly about the day. In an attempt to calm us down, my mother tells us to wait for the next year.

“You’ll do it again next year, Sweeties!”

I know this is just her tactic to calm us down. But her words make my brother’s smile even bigger.

“We’ll do it again next year!”

He says again and again, showing off everybody his festival costume until my mother finally takes it off.