Every six years in the Lake Sunwa region of Nagano in central Japan, the peace and quiet is shattered by a 1200 year old tradition known as the Kiotoshi. Part of the larger Onibashira festival that celebrates the renewal of an ancient temple, the tradition involves the cutting down of huge 200 year old Japanese fir trees to be used as pillars to mark out the sacred area of the temple.
But that’s just where the fun begins.
To transport these huge logs (measuring around 1 metre wide and 16 metres in length) down from the mountain, they are wrapped in ceremonial ropes and ribbons and then literally dragged and ridden by teams of men like a huge, scary mix between a toboggan and a battering ram. Crossing rugged terrain and even a river this wild ride has even been known to take lives. But of course in Japan, unlike most English speaking countries – where the festival would have been banned long ago – dying during Kiotoshi is an honourable way to go.
When the logs reach their final resting place – the fun continues as the crowd lifts the log high up into the air into a standing position – while the bravest riders continue to hang on.
Photo credits: Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida via Sacbee.com