Ombashira Matsuri

Ombashira Matsuri

Early April to mid-May, every six years
This ceremony, which takes place in Suwa, Japan, and represents a symbolic rebuilding of the Suwa-taisha Shrine, has four parts. The first is called Yamadashi, "taking the tree from the forest," a spirited event in which many people participate in cutting down a large fir tree, known as ombashira . The second part is Satobiki, "parading it through the streets." Men dressed as daimyo, or feudal lords, march in this parade, singing special woodcutters' folk songs known as min'yo . In the third part of the ceremony, known as Kawawatashi, the tree is carried across the river. In the festival's grand finale, called HikitatÉ, the log is planted upright at a corner of the four shrines by tying ropes to the top and pulling it until it is vertical.
This event takes place once in six years, in the Year of the Monkey and the Year of the Tiger. Because felling the tree and transporting it to the shrine is a long process, the festival begins in early April and ends in the middle of May.
CONTACTS:
Japan National Tourist Organization
1 Rockefeller Pl., Ste. 1250
New York, NY 10020
212-757-5640; fax: 212-307-6754
www.jnto.go.jp
SOURCES:
IllFestJapan-1993, p. 42