Rebecca’s Tips: Taru Mikoshi
Because April in SF often is synonymous with Cherry Blossom Festival… here’s Taru Mikoshi carrying!
Every year in April, San Francisco Taru Mikoshi Ren carries their Mikoshi down the streets of San Francisco’s Japantown for the finale of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival’s Grand Parade. All members of the public (18+) are welcome to join!
The original SF Taru Mikoshi debuted at the first Cherry blossom Festival in 1967, carried by about 25 people. It has grown since then to its current style with double elevated platforms and double layers of four sake barrels, one barrel on top, and a recently acquired enormous Hoh Oo (Phoenix). It weighs over 1000 pounds and requires 140 to 160 people to carry it. The SF Taru Mikoshi has been the highlight of the San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival for the last 42 years. The Mikoshi is a portable Shinto shrine in which a god or deity is believed to reside. In early days it was believed that carrying the Mikoshi would get rid of any curse that one might have and that shaking it would spread the benefit of the god’s power. Taru Mikoshi originated at the time of the 1868 Meiji Restoration. When Meiji Emperor entered Edo (Tokyo) Castle, one of many things he did was to invite the head of each of approximately 1500 communities within Tokyo to the castle and present them with a barrel of sake, similar to the one we carry. Spontaneous festivities erupted throughout Tokyo, and after they finished drinking, citizens carried the empty sake barrel on a platform for 4 days to show deep appreciation and unconditional support to the new government.