Dashi (山車, characters for mountain and car) are floats with various decorations that appear at Japanese festivals and are pulled during festivals in Japan. They are usually built to be quite tall, and can range in height from just one meter to an impressive ten meters, in a wide variety of types and styles, beautifully decorated with flowers, lights, balloons, dolls and more, to parade around district or city.
It is a place where the gods descend (yorishiro), and is considered a sacred vehicle for the gods, as is the mikoshi. Dashi were originally made to resemble mountains, as at the time it was believed that spirits lived in mountains. Dashi are believed to be built for the gods, prepared like yorishiro for the gods to descend to earth.
They are called Hikiyama, Matsuri Yatai or simply Yatai, depending on the region.
Float festivals have been passed down from generation to generation. Currently, across Japan, there are about 5.000 of these floats. Men, women, young and old from the cities or neighborhood share responsibility for organizing and running the festivals. This includes all stages, from the design and construction of the floats that reflect the diversity of the local culture (Japanese folk), to the accompanying music and the overall coordination of the event.
Dashi are pulled by people and people can ride on a dashi and depending on the festival or region they are called by different names.
• Saitama is known as Kasaboko.
• Osaka, known as Danjiri.
• Kyoto, known as Yamahoko.
• Fukuoka, known as Yamakasa.
• Tokyo, known as Hikimono.
Higashi machi floats from the Koromo festival of Toyota City, Aichi.
Minami machi floats from the Koromo festival of Toyota City, Aichi.