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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 Tradition of Onbashira Matsuri

Onbashira Matsuri is a traditional festival held every six years in the Suwa region of Nagano, Japan. The festival is dedicated to the renewal of the Suwa Grand Shrine, one of the oldest and most important Shinto shrines in the country. The highlight of the festival is the transportation of massive tree trunks – known as “Onbashira” – from the mountains down to the shrine. The event is a high-energy and thrilling ceremony that has been practiced for over 1200 years.

The Transportation of the Onbashira

The transportation of the Onbashira from the mountains to the Suwa Grand Shrine is not an easy feat. It involves a team of workers climbing up steep mountains to carefully select and cut down the trees. The trees are then dragged down the mountain using ropes and manpower. Once the Onbashira reaches the bottom of the mountain, it is placed on top of a sled and presented to the local villagers, who then dance and sing around it before it is transported to the shrine.

The Significance of Onbashira Matsuri

Onbashira Matsuri is not only a thrilling event but also carries significant spiritual and cultural importance. The transportation of the Onbashira represents the renewal of the Suwa Grand Shrine and the local community’s bonds with their ancestral land. The celebration is accompanied by various rituals, offerings, and performances, making it a significant event for the people of the Suwa region and visitors from all over Japan and the world.


The Onbashira Matsuri is a fascinating and culturally significant event that showcases the strength, determination, and bond of the local community. It is a must-see for anyone visiting Nagano, Japan, and interested in experiencing traditional Japanese culture in its full glory. With its combination of spiritual tradition, an impressive display of physical strength, and energetic performances, Onbashira Matsuri is truly a one-of-a-kind festival.
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