Mikoshi are sacred palanquins or portable shrines used for transporting kami most often seen during matsuris when the kami are paraded around the local community once a year.
It is believed their origin lies in when the great kami Hachiman was carried by palanquin from Usa in Kyushu to Todaiji in Nara in the middle of the eighth century.
When not being used the Mikoshi are normally kept in a special storeroom though it is not uncommon for them to be put on display at New Year when many visitors come to the shrine.
In the heavily depopulated rural areas of Japan many shrines are now virtually unused and the mikoshi are no longer used. These photos were taken in a small shrine in the mountains of yamaguchi Prefecture.