There are more festivals in Japan than you could probably count. The traditional GozanOkuribi festival in Kyoto, the Danjiri festival in Osaka or the infamous Hounen Festival in Komaki City, near Nagoya where huge wooden penises are paraded down the streets(to reportedly celebrate the blessings of a bountiful harvest). It occurs annually on March 15th.
Hounen Matsuri “Penis Festival” – March 15th
The Hounen Festival is actually one of my least favorite festivals in Japan, but it is broadly popular and worth a look once. If you like it, go back! One thing I will say is that I had never seen anything like it before! I cannot begin to describe the “penis festival” as well as was done in this article http://www.axiommagazine.jp/2012/03/15/honen-matsuri-the-penis-festival/
Onbashira Matsuri – “Log Riding Festival”
My favourite of all the festivals I have attended on the years is the crazy Ombashira festival that takes place in the unfortunatley named city of Suwa in central Nagano prefecture. This festival involves large fir trees being cut down in the nearby forest and then erected in the grounds of the shrine. The tree is called ombashira, and the ceremony, supposed to represent the rebuilding of the shrine, has four parts; Yamadashi (taking the tree of the city), kawawatashi (carrying it across a river), and Hikitate (erecting it in the shrine precincts). This festival takes place over 2 months..So it is probably a good thing it is held just once every 6 years.
The Onbashira festival climaxes with the process of sliding these massive logs down a very steep hill. However this is not a case of simply sliding some big logs down an incline. This is done with as many participants in the festival as possible actually riding the log. This is obviously a very dangerous activity as these are very large, heavy logs, besides the fact that the vast majority of these participants have all consumed quite a bit of sake.
Ambulances wait at the bottom. Very entertaining indeed. Sadly I was but a spectator of these activities, however looking back I would have loved the challenge of riding one of those big logs down that hill.
What is your crazy festival experience in Japan?