This event only happens every 6 years and has been going on for over a century and it’s completely unreal.
If you love the infamous and extremely dangerous bull riding festivals in Pamplona, Spain, the Onbashira Festivals may possibly be something you want to check out. Held once every six years in the Suwa area of central Nagano in Japan, it’s a religious festival that involves men riding massive logs over a challenging terrain using their bare hands, thickly braided ropes and with the hope that the nature of gravity will work in their favor.
Having began some 1200 years ago; this ancient ritual is reputed to have continued uninterrupted, despite being a terrifying adventure. Locals risk being crushed to death as they participate in moving enormous 10-tonne fir tree trunks downhill to the shrines of Suwa. Apart from moving the trees downhill from the mountain tops, participants navigate narrow streets and cross rivers to ensure that each log reaches its destination.
Known as the Sacred Pillars, the festival is held to symbolically renew the Suwa Grand Pillar. It’s celebrated over several days and is split in two categories: Yamadashi and Satobiki. Yamadashi is held in April and involves removing the trees from the mountains and brought into town. Because participants must brave the exceedingly steep slopes, this is the best time to view the festival because it’s thrilling yet so terrifying.
Satobiki (held in May) is the second part of the festival where the logs are taken from their resting place and erected at each shrine. It involves colorfully dressed participants in celebratory mood joining the march to the shrine. The pillars are prepared for their new home and slowly erected into their places.
In spite of the dangers involved, locals revere the festival. Many participants have been injured or killed in the past, and any brush with such perils is seen as some form of honor. Nonetheless, the Onbashira is an amazing festival punctuated with lots of singing, music, dancing and colorful costumes. Here’s is a coolly startling peep at this year’s festival.