It’s known as one of the nation’s top three most bizarre festivals and has resulted in deaths when it’s held every six years, but now you can experience the ride first-hand at any time of year!

Nagano’s Suwa Onbashira Festival is one of the country’s most unusual and dangerous festivals, involving participants riding long, heavy logs down steep slopes at great speeds in order to rebuild parts of a nearby shrine. Whenever it’s held, which is once every six years, in the years of the monkey and the tiger, television news reports recount the day with dramatic images and the details of the injuries — and sometimes deaths — of participants and spectators.

▼ Once you’ve seen the thrill of men riding a seventeen-metre log down a slope,
it’s hard not to want to try it out yourself.

Catching on to the fact that people are eager to maneuver a ten-tonne log between their legs, festival organisers recently set up a new machine with a long, round, carved piece of wood that includes “seating” for up to three people. Forget virtual reality, though, these guys are keeping it old-school with a contraption that allows visitors to experience the festival first-hand in a safe environment.

▼ Called the “Tree-drop Experience Machine”, it costs 200 yen (US$1.87) per ride.

▼ Here’s what the seats look like!
Maybe not the most comfortable ride ever…

Since photo of the interesting man-made machine were posted on Twitter, it’s received thousands of retweets and likes, eliciting comments like:

“This looks like it would really hurt your bottom”
“I really wanna ride this!”
“Those old guys look so cute from behind”
“I hope they let us borrow their happi festival coats for the ride!”
“Does it move like a rodeo machine?”

While organisers say it doesn’t swing back and forth as violently as a rodeo machine, there is a lot of up-down movement to replicate the slope ride and help visitors get into the spirit of the festival. When riders and the people watching them call out “Yoisa! Yoisa!” as they do in the real festival, it builds a sense of excitement that’s fun for everyone involved.

Ride Information
Tree-drop Experience Machine/木落し(きおとし)体験装
Onbashira Hall Yoisa/おんばしら館よいさ
Address: Nagano-ken, Suwa Gun, Shimosuwa-machi 168-1
Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Closed Tuesdays and between 28 December – 3 January)
Website (Japanese)

Source: Togech
Top Image: Twitter/@t2backyard
Video by OH! MATSURi