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Onbashira Matsuri: An Exploration of the Thrilling Ceremony Involving the Transportation of Massive Tree Trunks in the Mountains of Nagano


The History of Onbashira Matsuri

The Onbashira Matsuri is an ancient festival held once every six years in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. The origins of the festival can be traced back over a thousand years to the time when the Suwa Shrine was constructed. The festival is celebrated in two distinct parts and it is considered to be one of the most dangerous festivals in Japan.

The Transportation of the Tree Trunks

The first part of the festival involves the transportation of massive tree trunks from the mountains to the shrine. These tree trunks are considered sacred and are used to reconstruct the shrine buildings. The transportation involves pulling the tree trunks down steep mountain paths using ropes and manpower. The process is not only physically challenging but also extremely dangerous with several deaths and injuries occurring in the past.

The Raising of the Tree Trunks

The second part of the festival involves the raising of the tree trunks. The tree trunks are raised vertically and placed into a standing position. This process also involves the use of ropes and manpower. The tree trunks are then used to support the foundation of the shrine.

The Significance of the Festival

The Onbashira Matsuri is significant in Japanese culture as it is believed to renew and purify the spiritual energy of the Suwa Shrine. It is also considered to be a test of courage and endurance for the participating locals. The festival attracts a large number of tourists every six years, and it is a unique opportunity to experience a traditional Japanese festival.

The Future of Onbashira Matsuri

Despite the inherent danger of the festival, the local community continues to preserve this ancient tradition. However, due to recent accidents and injuries, the Japanese government has imposed stricter safety regulations. Despite this, the festival remains an integral part of Nagano Prefecture’s cultural heritage. In conclusion, the Onbashira Matsuri is a unique and thrilling festival that celebrates a thousand-year-old tradition in Japan. It is an opportunity to experience a cultural and spiritual significance in the midst of exciting danger. However, those wishing to participate should be well-prepared for the physical challenge and understand the risks involved.
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