Crazy Dangerous ‘Onbashiro’ Fest In Nagano, Japan

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(via) Japan’s Onbashiro Festival sees small armies of locals moving huge logs over crazy terrain using gravity, thick ropes, bare hands, and brute strength. The onbashiro (“sacred pillars”) are felled and dressed in a mountain forest before being moved in a series of highly dangerous and super dramatic stages to an ancient Shinto shrine where they are stood up as symbolic supports. It all goes down in the halcyon area around Lake Suwa in Nagano. During the kiotoshi (“tree falling”) stage of the ceremonial process, the bravest of the brave younger men hold on to the massive logs as they slide down steep hills. Grievous bodily harm during the festival is, unsurprisingly, common, and deaths aren’t unheard of. With all the wild-eyed, hands-up yelling while log straddling, the kiotoshi looks like a good ‘ol community dick measuring rite (echoing the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain), but what of it? There’s something to be said for maintaining tradition, and the Onbashiro fest has taken place every six years – uninterrupted – for over 1,200 years!

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