Garden News Blog

Mikoshi: A Portable Shinto Shrine for BBG

In the Shinto tradition of Japan, shrines are intended not as houses of worship but rather as places for dieties to inhabit. Shinto looks to nature as the source of these spiritual connections. In Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, designer Takeo Shiota included a shrine dedicated to Inari, the Shinto fox spirit, as part of the garden’s original design. In early April, Japan's Association of Shinto Shrines brought a traditional handcrafted mikoshi to the Garden to complement that shrine and mark the Japanese Garden’s centennial.

A mikoshi is a portable shrine used in community festivals throughout Japan. “In the spring or in the autumn, each shrine has a festival, and on that occasion, the mikoshi is carried around the village or community,” explains Tsunekiyo Tanaka, president of the association. Tanaka, along with Yasunori Tone, chief priest of Samukawa Shrine in Japan, presented the mikoshi to the Garden.

Tanaka said that he was inspired to have a mikoshi created for the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden's shrine last year during a visit to BBG. The intricate gilded piece was crafted over the course of a year, using traditional woodworking, sculpting, and metalworking techniques. Two craftsmen also traveled from Japan for the presentation of this gift.

The mikoshi will be displayed in the Conservatory Gallery through June.

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Mikoshi Presentation
Yasunori Tone, chief priest of Japan's Samukawa Shrine, speaks at the presentation of a traditional mikoshi by the Association of Shinto Shrines to Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo by Blanca Begert.