Every local shrine in Japan is responsible for celebrating its own deity and holding its own festivals. Because of this responsibility, and because there are so many shrines in Japan, there are countless numbers of festivals (called matsuri in Japanese) in Japan. The main purpose of a matsuri is to celebrate the Shinto gods and to pray for prosperity and good harvests. One of the most important elements of a matsuri is the procession, in which the Kami of the shrine is carried through the town in a mikoshi (a sacred palanquin). A mikoshi is a special carriage for the Kami, and the people walking and singing alongside the mikoshi are just attendants.