The History of Mikoshi
Many mikoshi have houou (Chinese phoenix and sacred bird) and giboshi (decorations shaped like onion flowers) on their roof. The phoenix represents all good things and is believed to bring happiness, whilst the smell of onions is said to ward off evils.
At the same time, it is said that it originated from the vehicle of God Hachiman. When a rebellion known as the Hayato Rebellion broke out in Kyushu in 720 during the Nara period, the Imperial Court prayed for the protection of the nation and the subjugation of the Hayato (people of ancient Japan who lived in southern Kyushu) at Usa Hachiman Shrine in Oita prefecture.
Another theory is that mikoshi originated from Emperor Shomu’s vehicle. During the first year of the Tenpyo-shoho era (749), the Emperor ordered the construction of the Great Buddha at Todaiji Temple in Nara, the then capital of Japan, but was concerned that aristocrats would object to the enormous expense incurred from it. This was followed by the Hachiman God’s delivery of a divine message approving its construction. Emperor Shomu then had the Hachiman God relocated to Nara, and at the time of the relocation he rode on a vehicle called horen, which had a golden phoenix on its roof. This is believed to be the prototype of the mikoshi.