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April 9, 2010
Onbashira Festival
Onbashira is a festival held every six years in the Lake Suwa area of Nagano, Japan. The purpose of the festival is to symbolically renew the Suwa Taisha or Suwa Grand Shrine. "Onbashira" can be literally translated as "the honored pillars". Onbashira lasts several months, and consists of two segments, Yamadashi and Satobiki. Yamadashi traditionally takes place in April, and Satobiki takes place in May. "Yamadashi" literally means "coming out of the mountains." Before this portion of the festival, huge trees are cut down in a Shinto ceremony using axes and adzes specially manufactured for this single use. The logs are decorated in red and white regalia, the traditional colors of Shinto ceremonies, and ropes are attached. During Yamadashi, Teams of men drag the logs down the mountain towards the four shrines of Suwa Taisha. The course of the logs goes over rough terrain, and at certain points the logs must be skidded or dropped down steep slopes. Young men prove their bravery by riding the logs down the hill in a ceremony known as "Ki-otoshi."
Source: Wikipedia
(22 images)

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Participants astride a huge log slide down a hill during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. The septennial festival has taken place for the past 1,200 years. The huge timbers are used as sacred pillars for the Suwa Grand Shrines of Kamisha and Shimosha, which are re-built in Suwa City. The lumbers' journey down the mountainside often results in injury and fatalities as participants try to ride the timbers as they slide down the mountain. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida


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Spectators watch as young men cling to a tree trunk as slides down the mountainside during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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Participants prepare to ride a huge log slide down a hill during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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Participants prepare to ride a huge log slide down a hill during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. The septennial festival has taken place for the past 1,200 years. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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Participants prepare to ride a huge log slide down a hill during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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Participants astride a huge log slide down a hill during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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Participants try to ride on the tree poles on the slope and they slide together with poles to the mountainside during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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Shrine parishioners ride a log called "Onbashira "down a hill as part of delivering it to a Shinto shrine during the Onbashira Festival in Shimosuwa, east of Tokyo, Japan, Friday, April 9. Those parishioners carry 16 logs to the four Suwa Grand Shrines, four logs to each shrine, to spiritually renew the shrines in the two-and-a-half-month-long festival. AP / Hiro Komae



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Shrine parishioners fall off a log called "Onbashira" when riding it down a hill as part of delivering it to a Shinto shrine during the Onbashira Festival in Shimosuwa, east of Tokyo, Japan, Friday, April 9. AP / Hiro Komae



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Spectators look as young men cling to a tree trunk as slides down the mountainside during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. The septennial festival has taken place for the past 1,200 years. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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Participants prepare to ride a huge log slide down a hill during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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Participants astride a huge log slide down a hill during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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Participants astride a huge log slide down a hill during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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Participants astride a huge log slide down a hill during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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Participants astride a huge log slide down a hill during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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Participants astride a huge log slide down a hill during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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Shrine parishioners carry a log called "Onbashira" after riding it down a hill as part of delivering it to a Shinto shrine during the Onbashira Festival in Shimosuwa, east of Tokyo, Japan, Friday, April 9. AP / Hiro Komae



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Participants prepare to ride a huge log slide down a hill during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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Participants astride a huge log slide down a hill during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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Participants astride a huge log slide down a hill during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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Participants try to ride on the tree poles on the slope and they slide together with poles to the mountainside during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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Spectators watch as young men cling to a tree trunk as slides down the mountainside during the Onbashira Festival on April 9, in Shimosuwa, Japan. Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida



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