Taipei, Nov. 5 (CNA) Four ceremonial shrines carried on palanquins from Japan’s Matsuyama City in Ehime Prefecture have been bumping into each other all around Taipei since Nov. 3, in celebration of a decade of friendship between the two cities.
In a ceremony known in Japan as Kenka-Mikoshi, meaning “clashing of shrines,” each of the four shrines are mounted onto palanquins that can only be respectively carried by 40 men known as Mikoshi Mamori, or shrine guardians.
As each shrine weights around 700-800 kilograms, it generally takes 10 men to carry each of a palanquin’s four poles.
The unique ceremony is a special celebration in Japan where by Mikoshi Mamori members shake the palanquins and run into each other to alert the sprit within a shrine to awaken and give out blessings.
The practice of Matsuyama’s Dogo hot springs area traditionally displays eight palanquins in attendance to represent the eight towns in the area.
The four shrines brought to Taiwan were chaperoned by over 400 Mikoshi Mamori members to be part of celebrations all across Taipei in celebration of a decade of bilateral friendship.
The palanquins first “clashed” in Beitou District on Friday to celebrate the local hot springs festival, followed by an appearance in Songshan District on Saturday.
On Sunday, the palanquins once again “collided” in front of Taipei City Hall, with the city’s Mayor Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) leading one of the litters as he also did in Beitou two days earlier.
This year marked the third time Matsuyama has brought Kenka-Mikoshi to Taipei since signing a friendship cities agreement with Taipei in 2014.
The celebration first came to Taipei in 2015 and again in 2019 before COVID-19 forced a stop to traveling.
The 2023 appearance not only celebrates a decade of friendship but also the return of bilateral travel in the post pandemic era.
(By Liu Chien-pang and James Lo)