Onbashira Festival, Suwa Taisha Shrine, Nagano

By Staff Writer
March 15, 2024
Suwa Taisha is a complex of four impressive shrines can be found near Lake Suwa in Nagano, which are considered some of the oldest shrines in Japan. Once every seven years, between April and June, they hold the “Onbashira Festival”, which is a 1,200-year-old tradition. In this festival, 16 large fir trees are towed down from the mountains near the lake and carried to the shrines. They are considered “sacred trees” and are erected at each of the four corners of the four shrines buildings. Each of the trees, which measure more than 17 meters long and weigh 13 tons, are carried approximately 20 kilometers by 1,000 to 2,000 men without the use of any trucks. The best-known part of the tradition is an event where people ride the trees down a hill at high speed, which draws many spectators is popular with tourists. The festival is the largest event at Suwa Taisha Shrines and is carried out every 5 to 7 years, based on a carefully elaborated plan. The last festival was held in 2022, and the next will be held in 2028.
A big crowd gathered on a hill
Big trees on the ground
A tree erected at the shrine
Suwa Taisha Shrine
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