It was 5:30pm on a warm Wednesday in the small town of Aso on the island of Kyushu. I was drunk, drenched in sweat, and on the verge of a coronary. I was also missing one of my recently purchased and highly treasured flip-flops. I was in crisis. So, how did all this happen? I had been carrying the gods around at a Shinto festival.
Despite carrying the gods of Aso around all afternoon, I never got to see them. The mikoshi, portable shrine, holds their spirit. An elaborately decorated and prized object, each mikoshi weighs around 400-500kg. Carrying one around, even with seven strong shoulders to assist you, requires strength and commitment. I had neither of these attributes.