Onbashira Matsuri, Japan

2 minutes

The Japanese festival that’s one of the world’s most spectacular – and dangerous

The Onbashira matsuri or festival held at Nagano in Japan is one of the world’s most enduring – and dangerous – spiritual rites. The festival is part of Shinto tradition, and has been held every six years for more than a millennium. It begins in April with teams of young men pulling 16 fir logs up one side of a mountain, and then, in a thrilling, nerve-wracking display of bravado, riding them down the other side. The festival concludes in May, with a colourful celebration that sees each of the logs mounted at a shrine. Serious injuries and even deaths aren’t unusual at Onbashira due to the risks inherent to each of the events. Onbashira Matsuri, Japan is a brief and breathtaking plunge into the vibrant, frequently mysterious rhythms of the 2016 festival.

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