Long weight propels Japanese men to join log ride
April 11, 1998
Web posted at: 8:12 p.m. EDT (0012 GMT)
SUWA, Japan (CNN) -- A dangerous ride down a 90-meter
(300-foot) slope -- while trying to balance on huge rolling
tree trunks -- is a tradition for the men of Suwa during the
About 55,000 spectators watched them plunge down the steep
hillside on three, 7-ton logs Friday. Five more logs were
being used Saturday and Sunday.
What's the reward for participants?
For some, it's a face streaked with dirt. But for others, the
prize is a sense of pride.
The daredevil log rides down the 40-degree slope are part of
the three-day festival that is held every six years in Suwa,
in the Nagano prefecture northwest of Tokyo. The event
precedes the rebuilding of the nearby Shimo Suwa Shrine.
The logs are fashioned from fir trees, considered sacred in
the Shinto faith. After the rides, the logs will be used as
posts for the shrine. In the last festival, a man died after
a tree trunk rolled over him.