Japanese communities are still held together by local shrines, and holidays are a time to celebrate those bonds — the living, the dead, the traditions that connect them. Neighborhood shrines often host matsuri, or festivals, during the major holidays throughout the year like Obon in the summer and shogatsu around the new year. Shrines will pull out their mikoshi, beautifully carved structures that are hoisted onto backs and paraded around the neighborhood, sometimes to other nearby shrines and back again.
While the tradition is about honoring the deity and ancestors, these are not solemn affairs. There's laughter and dancing. Order a tray of takoyaki at the festival, grab a can of Asahi and enjoy the show.