Onbashira, festival where brave men lost lives

Oh my, it was really difficult to even entered the perimeter for one of the Biggest festivals in Japan. Just look at the spectators! Those seats, were attained through lottery, and some were auctioned (I heard) starting from 7000yen.


This is the first time I been to a festival where the lotsa police were guarding the place, and the ‘Do not cross’ lines were spread everywhere.

I am talking about Onbashira festival in Nagano. It’s a sacred ritual to bring out of the woods, few of the big trees in logs to rebuild the local shrine, symbolically. The log will be ridden down the hills by several brave men, who risk their live, sliding on it. This ritual is called ‘木落とし’ (=kiotoshi).

Of course, these brave men riding the log, fully known the risk that they could die from this. Perhaps, they signed a statement letter.  I heard two brave lives were lost. RIP.

Here was after the log arrived down the hill. Nobody got hurt, right?


The Festival/ ritual has been held from more than 1400 years ago, every six years, in the year of Monkey (this year) and the year of Tiger.

With my luck, I was not allowed to enter the festival perimeter on admission limit. But, miraculously, I got acquainted to very kind local who took me inside, lend me a pair of gloves and festival uniform and rope. Definitely not just to see the festival, but to participate in the Onbashira festival.


You see, that  people in blue hanging on dear life to the rope connected to the log? I was proudly, on the previous batch of that.

It was thrilling. Some people were falling down the hill as they miss placed  their footing.  I didn’t fall though.

But, honestly my legs were shaking. I was worried the log would fall on us and wipe us down (this is impossible to happen because they really calculate everything to safety).

We were not even pulling the log down. And the rope, we were just ask to hold it in a way we could release it any time.

It was an experience of a life time, and I enjoyed every second of it. Although I nearly had a heatstroke to fend off my viewing spot 😀

3 thoughts on “Onbashira, festival where brave men lost lives

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I am currently writing about Indian Culture and seeing richness from around the world makes me happy. I will learn a lot from you 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s