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PHOTO ESSAY/Japanese ceremonial palanquins festively 'collide' around Taipei

11/05/2023 06:18 PM
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Two Japanese shrines mounted on palanquins clash into each other in front of the Taipei City Hall Sunday. CNA photo Nov. 5, 2023
Two Japanese shrines mounted on palanquins clash into each other in front of the Taipei City Hall Sunday. CNA photo Nov. 5, 2023

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.

Four Mikoshi Mamori members from two opposing palanquins brace themselves for impact in front of the Taipei City Hall Sunday. CNA photo Nov. 5, 2023
Four Mikoshi Mamori members from two opposing palanquins brace themselves for impact in front of the Taipei City Hall Sunday. CNA photo Nov. 5, 2023
Four Matsuyama City ceremonial shrines on palanquins and the chaperones of the litters get ready for a celebration in front of the Taipei City Hall Sunday. CNA photo Nov. 5, 2023
Four Matsuyama City ceremonial shrines on palanquins and the chaperones of the litters get ready for a celebration in front of the Taipei City Hall Sunday. CNA photo Nov. 5, 2023
Mikoshi Mamori members that man the top of opposing palanquins display fatigue after clashing into each other multiple times on Sunday. CNA photo Nov. 5, 2023
Mikoshi Mamori members that man the top of opposing palanquins display fatigue after clashing into each other multiple times on Sunday. CNA photo Nov. 5, 2023

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.

Two Mikoshi Mamori members warm up the crowd in Beitou District before ramming their palanquin into another on Friday. CNA photo Nov. 3, 2023
Two Mikoshi Mamori members warm up the crowd in Beitou District before ramming their palanquin into another on Friday. CNA photo Nov. 3, 2023
Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an leads a palanquin in Beitou Friday. CNA photo Nov. 3, 2023
Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an leads a palanquin in Beitou Friday. CNA photo Nov. 3, 2023
Vice Premier Cheng Wen-tsan leads a palanquin in Beitou on Friday. CNA photo Nov. 3, 2023
Vice Premier Cheng Wen-tsan leads a palanquin in Beitou on Friday. CNA photo Nov. 3, 2023

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.

Four Matsuyama City ceremonial shrines on palanquins, with Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an on the one located second left, get ready for a celebration in front of the Taipei City Hall Sunday. CNA photo Nov. 5, 2023
Four Matsuyama City ceremonial shrines on palanquins, with Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an on the one located second left, get ready for a celebration in front of the Taipei City Hall Sunday. CNA photo Nov. 5, 2023
Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an leads a palanquin for the second time in three days in front of Taipei City Hall Sunday. CNA photo Nov. 5, 2023
Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an leads a palanquin for the second time in three days in front of Taipei City Hall Sunday. CNA photo Nov. 5, 2023
Mikoshi Mamori members man a palanquin in the hot Taipei heat in front of the Taipei City Hall Sunday. CNA photo Nov. 5, 2023
Mikoshi Mamori members man a palanquin in the hot Taipei heat in front of the Taipei City Hall Sunday. CNA photo Nov. 5, 2023
Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an gets ready to clash into another palanquin in front of Taipei City Hall Sunday. CNA photo Nov. 5, 2023
Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an gets ready to clash into another palanquin in front of Taipei City Hall Sunday. CNA photo Nov. 5, 2023

The celebration first came to Taipei in 2015 and again in 2019 before COVID-19 forced a halt to travelling.

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)

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