The centerpiece of many Japanese festivals is the mikoshi, a traveling shrine which is meant to be carried from a main shrine into the surrounding neighborhood. Though there are religious aspects of the mikoshi, many simply view it as a cultural icon around which community is built and fostered. Carrying the mikoshi is considered an honor and is usually bestowed upon people who are considered leaders among their neighborhood. Though at some festivals, competition to carry the mikoshi is so intense that fights break out between participants, for the most part, festivals involving mikoshi are simply a time to enjoy food and drink on a warm summer evening.

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