The Lucky Star mikoshi, one of Washinomiya’s most sacred relics to legions of otaku devotees, will be be spending most of the year in China for the Expo 2010 Shanghai China international fair as an example of Japan’s unique modern visual art.
The mikoshi, a Shinto portable shrine used as a sort of chariot for deities during religious processions, is perhaps less well known outside of Japan than it deserves, so a brief introduction to the shrine is included below…
The relevant news article from the Saitama Shimbun newspaper, which was later reprinted online:
Here follows a brief translation the introductory paragraphs of the article:
Lucky☆Star Mikoshi To Cross The Sea to Shanghai Expo “Moe-Culture”
The famed mikoshi emblazoned with art from popular anime Lucky☆Star at Washimiya that was constructed for the Hajisai (土師祭) festival appears to be scheduled to visit China for exhibition at the Shanghai Expo 2010 exhibition starting on May 1.
The aim will be to demonstrate the close cooperation of the local government, businesses, and citizens involving sharing Japan’s anime and manga (culture).
In addition to being on display, there also seem to be plans to have fans from the actual site (Washinomiya Shrine) on hand to bear the shrine on their backs (as would be done at a festival).
It is hoped that putting the Lucky☆Star mikoshi on display in such a globally public venue will help to foster “excellent publicity for both Washimiya and the (local) Hajisai festival”.
Harmony Between Anime and Tradition
The Lucky Star mikoshi was constructed two years ago through cooperation of Lucky☆Star fans and local residents to serve as a centerpiece of the yearly Hajisai festival that is celebrated before the main gates of Washinomiya Shrine every September. The mikoshi is currently owned by the Festival Committee that organizes the event, but is taken care of on a day-to-day basis by the local Washimiya Commerce Association.
The rest of the article mostly deals with brief descriptions of the otaku subculture and its worldwide reach among foreign fans, Lucky Star’s popularity with China’s many otaku, and details on the mikoshi itself (it happens to be 2.2m tall, weighs 260kg, was carried by about 150 people throughout last year’s festival, and is decorated with approximately 30 different drawings of the show’s female cast.)
Here are some photos of the beautiful otaku relic onsite, the first three dating from the end of the mikoshi’s construction as it was nearing its unveiling in Fall 2008:
The last photo above actually comes from one of many videos posted in an excellent article by one devoted otaku; the videos are regrettably in poor resolution, yet still do a good job of displaying the mikoshi in action as it is carried through the town’s streets by throngs of otaku worshipers:
The above video is a treat, with a truly otaku chant of “Kagamin! Kagamin!” filling the street as the mikoshi goes down its route.
This next one captures the end of one lovely chant, “Tsukasa! Dondake! Tsukasa!”, before going on to “Yoshimizu!”
“Dondake” is a bit hard to translate as it partly slang to standard Japanese, but the phrase might translate as “What a (great) Tsukasa!”"
The word is occasionally used by both the Hiiragi sisters in the manga and show, which explains its otherwise odd inclusion.
This one above is possibly the best of all the otaku chants captured on any mikoshi video online thus far: “Pan Koujou! Pan Koujou!”, which translates to “Bread Factory! Bread Factory!”
As any Lucky Star fan could easily tell, this chant comes from a quick throwaway line said by Tsukasa to Kagami in episode two as the girls were discussing possible jobs for Konata.
The video above comes from a different uploader and dates from last year’s Hajisai in September 2009. It is in especially excellent HD quality too, and shows the mikoshi in great detail near the end of the video.
More details on the aforementioned Expo 2010 Shanghai event can be found at the official English website.
Information on the Washinomiya Shrine is available at its Japanese website, and a delightful (English) account of one foreign otaku’s pilgrimage to Washinomiya can be found in a pair of videos at Actar’s Blog.