Every six years, men of the Suwa region gather to fell, drag and ride massive logs over challenging terrain to display their bravery and ultimately erect the logs in the buildings of the Suwa Grand Shrine. As a form of spiritual renewal of the holy site, as many as 16 fir trees have to be harvested to replace the pillars of the shrine complex. At 17 meters long and weighing 12 tons, each of these logs is heavier than the largest land animal on earth – the African elephant.
Like other festivals in Japan, Onbashira Matsuri in Suwa, Nagano is filled with plenty of singing, dancing, colorful costumes and merrymaking in general. Though unlike the others, this is a dangerous festival where it’s easy to get injured – with deaths happening occasionally.