All About Japan

Experience the Onbashira Festival—Safely!

| Festivals , Nagano

Nagano’s Suwa Onbashira Festival is one of the country’s most unusual and dangerous festivals. It involves participants riding long, heavy logs down steep slopes at great speeds to rebuild parts of a nearby shrine.

Whenever it’s held, which is once every six years—in the years of the monkey and the tiger—television news reports recount the day with dramatic images and the details of the injuries—and sometimes deaths—of participants and spectators.

Catching on to the fact that people are eager to maneuver a 10-ton log between their legs, festival organizers recently set up a new machine with a long, round, carved piece of wood that includes “seating” for up to three people. Forget virtual reality, though—these guys are keeping it old-school with a contraption that allows visitors to experience the festival firsthand in a safe environment. Called the ”Tree-Drop Experience Machine,” it costs ¥200 (US$1.87) per ride.

Here’s what the seats look like! Maybe not the most comfortable ride ever...

While organizers say it doesn’t swing back and forth as violently as a rodeo machine, there is a lot of up-down movement to replicate the slope ride and help visitors get into the spirit of the festival. When riders and the people watching them call out “Yoisa! Yoisa!” as they do in the real festival, it builds a sense of excitement that’s fun for everyone involved.

Read full story: en.rocketnews24.com

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