About Mikoshi (Portable Shrine):
A mikoshi is a portable Shinto shrine. Shinto followers believe that it serves as the vehicle of a divine spirit in Japan at the time of a parade of deities. Often, the mikoshi resembles a miniature building, with pillars, walls, a roof, a veranda and a railing. During a matsuri, or Japanese festival, people bear a mikoshi on their shoulders by means of the two or four poles. They bring the mikoshi from the shrine, carry it around the neighborhoods that worship at the shrine.
About Shishimai (Japanese Lion Dance):
The roots of the Japanese lion dance are said to be from China or India. The lion dance has been completely absorbed into Japanese tradition and is used even in religious Shinto festivals aside from new year celebrations. The Japanese lion consists of a wooden, lacquered head called a "shishi-gashira" (lit. Lion Head), and a characteristic body of green dyed cloth with white designs. It can be manipulated by a single person, or two people, one who manipulates the head.
In partnership with the Japan Information Centre, Consulate General of Japan.