Tall Gary says he's had many drinking sessions with this guy. I'm quite sure the god was blotto at the end of that session, and Tall Gary was still going strong.
Anyway. I'm a bit matsuri-besotted, so you'll have to put up with another festival-related post. I want to tell you more about the costumes.
A mikoshi parade is often led by a man dressed as Sarutahiko Ōkami (猿田毘古大神). Sarutahiko is one of only six kami to be honoured with the title Ōkami or "great god". He's described in ancient Japanese texts like the 8th century Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters): he's 2,1 meters tall and his nose is longer than 1 meter! He's regarded as a guiding god, which explains his presence in front of the parade. You can read about Sarutahiko here.
You often see women dressed as tekomai (手古舞) geisha in festival parades. They're dressed as men. Why? Festivals used to be so holy that only men were allowed to participate, so if women wanted to do it – even if it was mainly as entertainment for men – they had to pretend to be men themselves. Sigh.
Their hairstyle is called ichōmage (銀杏髷), also called chonmage (丁髷). It was very popular in the Edo period and is similar to the style that's still worn by sumo wrestlers. Each woman carries a lantern on which her name is written.
Then, especially for Ekaterina, there's a horse. I'm not sure what the role of the horse is, except to make me very happy. Does anybody know?