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Monday, 12th April 2010
In Events In Japan,

Onbashira festivals take place across Japan

Brave participants in Japan have taken part in a traditional festival which sees people ride giant logs down a steep slope to an ancient temple.

The name onbashira - which means ancient pillar - refers to the log itself and the event is held as part of the traditional Ki-otoshi ceremony. Those riding the log are said to be delivering the wood to a shrine and are pulled down the hill by ropes.

Pictures published by news agency AP show a group of five men sitting on top of a huge tree which later rolls on its way down the hill and flings them all to one side.

At the bottom of the hill are the four shrines of Suwa Taisha. The event is held in the area of Nagano and has been an important part of the Japanese festival calendar for more than a thousand years. In May, more onbashira celebrations are held.

It takes place every seven years and during the May events, the logs which managed to reach the bottom of the hill are erected as pillars around the temples.

Written by Kimberley Homer.