Onbashira is a traditional log riding festival held in held in Suwa Town, Nagano Prefecture every six years. Tree trunks are dragged from the mountains to the Suwa Taisha Shrine to be raised as sacred pillars.
Kiotoshi “tree falling” is where men risk their lives riding the tree trunks down a steep slope. This takes place in two locations, first there is “Kamisha” near Chino, then a few days later there is “Shimosha” near Shimosuwa.
On the three days of the Suwa Taisha Kamisha the “tree falling” is followed by kawagoshi “river crossing.” A small rope is towed across the river (in one case by an ugly duckling with swans) which connects to the larger ropes that drag the tree trunk.
Dignitaries are carried across the river.
Then the brass band wades across!
The tree trunk, bedecked with a couple of dozen men, is dragged from the riverbank. Rescue services stand by to try and prevent any of the participants from drowning.
An amazing spectacle to witness.