Portable shrine cruise returns to Miyagi city

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A gozasen boat, left, with a mikoshi portable shrine on board cruises during the Shiogama Minato Matsuri festival in Shiogama, Miyagi Prefecture, on Monday.

SENDAI — Two boats carrying mikoshi portable shrines paraded around the beautiful Matsushima Bay off Shiogama, Miyagi Prefecture, on Monday, the date of the Marine Day national holiday.

The event, Shiogama Minato Matsuri (Shiogama port festival),was held for the first time in three years. Launched in 1948 to pray for reconstruction after World War II, the annual event was held even in 2011 when the city was badly damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake, but it was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The bay is touted as one of the three most scenic places in the country.

The gozasen boats, one shaped like a dragon and the other like a phoenix, set off from Shiogama Port with portable shrines from the city’s Shiogama and Shiwahiko shrines on board. They were followed by about 80 fishing boats and other vessels trailing colorful “big-catch” banners and streamers. They cruised around the bay for four hours.

“I was happy I got to see them for the first time in a long while. I hope more festivities will come back,” said Morio Sasaki, 78, from the city, as he watched the pageant from a cliff.