• Special feature on “Strange festivals in Japan”

Special feature on “Strange festivals in Japan”


What do you imagine when you hear the word “Japanese festival”?

There are various festivals such as the Sapporo Snow Festival, the Gion Festival, the Sendai Tanabata and Nebuta Festivals, as well as standard festivals such as the Omikoshi (portable shrine) festival and the Summer Festival where you can enjoy eating at street vendors.

So, what do you imagine when you hear the words “strange festival” or “extreme festival”?
Originally, festivals were a place to communicate with the gods, and the culture of the area was preserved.
There are still some outrageous festivals that go beyond our common sense.

Let’s take a look at some of those “weird and unusual festivals” this time!

Onbashira (Suwa Taisha Shrine in Nagano)

This festival is held from April to May (once every six years) in the year of the tiger and the monkey, and is said to be the most bizarre festival in Japan.
Sixteen fir trees more than 150 years old are cut from the mountain and erected in the four directions of Suwa Taisha Shrine as a sacred tree.

One of the most famous is “Shimoyashiro no Kiotoshi”. It’s a very dangerous job, riding a large tree and sliding down a 40-degree slope, and some people are injured or even killed.

Paantu (Miyako Island, Okinawa)

The festival is held on Miyakojima Island and is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Site, where a god named Paantu appears and purifies people from evil by smearing mud all over their body.

Tourists are welcome to visit the site, but due to the fact that the mud in Paantu is easy to get into trouble with tourists because it doesn’t fall off once you get your clothes on, and due to a previous incident of violence by tourists to Paantu, they do not announce the date to the public.

Hitori Sumou (Oyamazumi Shrine, Ehime)

It is a ritual performed at Oyamazumi Shrine in Ehime Prefecture.

The festival is held every year in the spring (May 5 in the lunar calendar) and in the fall (September 9 in the lunar calendar).

Hitori Sumou refers to a comparison of power with God. It is said that if the gods win this sumo match, a good harvest is promised for that year.

It looks like he is wrestling alone, but this is just a comparison of power with God. Because God is invisible, it appears to humans that he is wrestling alone.

Kamakura Field – Takeuchi Grounds (Misato Town, Akita)

Rokugou no Takeuchi is the final event in the “Rokugou no Kamakura”, which takes place in Misato-cho, Akita Prefecture, from February 11-15 every year.
The participants are divided into Union and Confederate armies in each district and beat each other with long bamboos to see who wins and loses.

There is three games, and the third game is so extreme that the fire came up in the middle of the bout.
By the way, anyone can participate if they apply in advance, so if you’re hungry for a fight, you might want to try it out!

These are just a few of the unusual festivals that take place all over Japan.
The more you look into the festivals, the more interesting they are.
Please check it out if you’re interested!