Dashi, A Decorated Festival Float
The appearance of a Dashi and a Mikoshi are similar but their roles in Shinto celebrations are very different.
As stated in another Tadaima Japan article, a Mikoshi is a vehicle for the traveling spirit of a god. However, a Dashi is a type of portable home for the god during the festival and usually includes an area for people who coordinate the movement of the Dashi through cheers and music. Since ancient times, the Shinto belief was that gods dwelled in natural areas such as mountains, waterfalls, trees, and rocks.
The Dashi is modeled after a specific natural location that relates to the god being honored.
The origin of Dashi stems from the need to please the god and is accomplished through elaborate decorations, dance, and music.
Each town has its own unique ideas about Dashi design and decoration and people enjoy trying to distinguish each elaborate Dashi design from one another.