JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when traveling.

Image search results - "hira"
001-IMG_9304.jpg
Bird's eye view of Shirakawa-go from Ogimachi Castle ruins.
001-IMG_9362.jpg
Side view of Wada-ke House
002-0321-23.jpg
002-IMG_9386.jpg
Path to Wada House entrance
003-IMG_9311.jpg
Close-up of Ogimachi
003-IMG_9372.jpg
Main house on left and latrine on right with large vats to gather fertilizer.
004-0321-15.jpg
004-IMG_9363.jpg
Main house with a recently rethatched roof, making it look very smooth.
005-IMG_9299.jpg
Shirakawa-go 白川郷
005-IMG_9366.jpg
Wada House, Shirakawa-go
006-IMG_9347.jpg
006-IMG_9365.jpg
007-IMG_9353.jpg
007-IMG_9368.jpg
Gable openings let light and air come through the attic to foster silkworms.
008-IMG_9369.jpg
A small stream beside the house helps to melt the snow falling off the roof.
008-IMG_9377.jpg
009-IMG_9182.jpg
Underside of roof made of an A-frame truss structure
009-IMG_9383.jpg
The thatched roof is replaced every 30 years. Every spring, 6 or 7 thatched roofs are replaced in Shirakawa-go.
010-120_2035.jpg
Billboard depicting Ki-otoshi (Log Drop) at Shimosuwa Station.
010-126_2607.jpg
Shimosuwa Station on May 8, 2004. Here for the final three days of the Onbashira Matsuri's climax, the Satobiki when they haul the Onbashira logs to the Shimo-sha Shrines (Akimiya and Harumiya) and erect them.
010-IMG_9183.jpg
The bottom ends of these beams are pegged into a point (komajiri) resting on another cross beam. Wada House, Shirakawa-go
010-IMG_9385.jpg
It costs several million yen and a small army of workers to replace the thatch. The cost is subsidized by the town, prefecture, and national government.
011-0321-26.jpg
Where silkworms were raised to make silk cocoons.
011-120_2037.jpg
Shimosuwa Station 下諏訪駅
011-126_2606.jpg
Onbashira monument in front of Shimosuwa Station. This Onbashira log was used in the opening ceremony of the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998.
011-IMG_9333.jpg
012-120_2036.jpg
Store your luggage here. Not enough lockers at the train station so they provide this service. 400 yen/day.
012-126_2604.jpg
Entertainment stage in front of Shimosuwa Station.
012-IMG_9186.jpg
Slats on the attic floor to enable smoke and soot from the hearth to reach the attic.
012-IMG_9345.jpg
013-0321-5.jpg
013-120_2038.jpg
Go straight on this road in front of the station.
013-126_2609.jpg
In front of Shimosuwa Station.
013-IMG_9176.jpg
Straw rope tie the large beams to form a truss for the roof.
014-0322-4.jpg
Shirakawa-go 白川郷
014-120_2039.jpg
There are no buses nor taxis to where we want to go.
014-126_2612.jpg
Parade of Nagamochi which are long chests. 長持
014-IMG_9177.jpg
Another rope made of a crushed tree branch to tie smaller beams. It tightens as it dries.
015-0322-19.jpg
Photo gallery
015-120_2040.jpg
We had to walk it. This was April 10, 2004, one of the days for Shimo-sha Shrine's Yamadashi when they hauled the logs from the mountain forest.
015-126_2610.jpg
015-IMG_9178.jpg
016-120_2042.jpg
After walking for 30 min., we reached this place called Shimekake, a resting place for the logs which had been hauled from the mountains. This is Log No. 2 for Akinomiya Shrine. 注連掛
016-126_2617.jpg
016-IMG_9181.jpg
Implements to raise silkworms.
016-IMG_9416.jpg
Restaurant
017-0320-35.jpg
Rethatching a small storehouse.
017-120_2043.jpg
The logs will rest here for about a month until early May when they will be hauled to the shrines for the Satobiki erection.
017-126_2619.jpg
017-IMG_9189.jpg
Foundation and pillars rest on stones. The beam is shaped to fit the stone.
018-0322-21.jpg
018-120_2048.jpg
Here is where anybody can get on the logs and play.
018-126_2622.jpg
018-IMG_9190.jpg
Two foundation beams interlock.
018a-IMG_9216.jpg
019-120_2049.jpg
019-126_2623.jpg
019-IMG_9420.jpg
Thatch repair work.
020-0321-14.jpg
020-120_2051.jpg
After the Shimekake, we walked further.
020-126_2651.jpg
Crowded street
021-120_2052.jpg
Until we were stopped here. Sign says that only people with tickets can proceed further. Yeah, we walked all this way only to be told we cannot go further. Our destination was the Ki-otoshi slope where the huge logs slide down for the Yamadashi.
021-126_2653.jpg
Nagamochi. Also see my video at YouTube.
021-IMG_9426.jpg
022-0322-11.jpg
022-120_2057.jpg
We had to wait until the Ki-otoshi at 1pm was over. That's the one we wanted to see. But the place was already too full.
022-126_2657.jpg
023-0322-14.jpg
023-120_2059.jpg
We had to wait until the 1pm Ki-otoshi log came out.
023-126_2659.jpg
024-120_2062.jpg
024-126_2661.jpg
Nagamochi chest decorations
024-IMG_9388.jpg
025-0321-6.jpg
Tourist Information Office in the center of town.
025-120_2067.jpg
Log No. 4 for Shimo-sha Shrine's Akinomiya Shrine which already went down the big slope for Ki-otoshi (Log Drop) comes out at 1:30 pm. 秋宮四之柱
025-126_2662.jpg
025a-IMG_9200.jpg
Tourist Information Office
026-0321-33.jpg
Restroom behind the Tourist Information Office
026-120_2071.jpg
Log No. 4 for Shimo-sha Shrine's Akinomiya Shrine. 秋宮四之柱
026-126_2663.jpg
Umbrella dance
027-0321-32.jpg
Cooling system
027-120_2075.jpg
So after this log came out, we were allowed to proceed to the giant slope.
027-127_2725.jpg
028-120_2078.jpg
There it is, the slope.
028-126_2627.jpg
Shimo-sha Akimiya Shrine torii
028-IMG_9400.jpg
Parking lot along the main road through the village.
029-120_2081.jpg
We weren't the only ones there.
029-126_2628.jpg
Shimo-sha Akimiya Shrine. That's a support pole for erecting the No. 1 Akimiya Onbashira log. 秋宮
029-IMG_9421.jpg
Deai Bridge crossing the Shokawa River.
030-0322-22.jpg
030-120_2085.jpg
The Ki-otoshi slope, and one of the icons of the festival. This is the larger slope for Ki-otoshi compared to the one for the Kami-sha Shrine in Chino. 木落とし坂
030-126_2632.jpg
Shimo-sha Akimiya Shrine 秋宮 幣拝殿
031-120_2090.jpg
The Ki-otoshi slope up close. Very rough-looking. 木落とし坂
031-126_2633.jpg
Hole for the No. 4 Akimiya Onbashira log
031-IMG_9422.jpg
Deai Bridge
032-120_2091.jpg
People everywhere along the edge of the slope.
032-126_2634.jpg
Small support poles.
032-IMG_9390.jpg
Shokawa River
033-0322-24.jpg
Tourist Info Office near the bus stop.
033-120_2093.jpg
The numerous people and trees made it impossible to see the slope itself.
033-126_2638.jpg
Hole for the No. 2 Akimiya Onbashira log
034-0322-25.jpg
Entrance to the Gassho-zukuri Minka-en outdoor museum.
034-120_2095.jpg
It was very steep and uncomfortable to sit on, so I decided to leave this place.
034-126_2639.jpg
Hole for the No. 2 Akimiya Onbashira log
035-0322-32.jpg
Gassho-zukuri Minka-en outdoor museum
035-120_2097.jpg
035-126_2636.jpg
Hole for the No. 2 Akimiya Onbashira log
036-0322-27.jpg
Gassho-zukuri Minka-en outdoor museum
036-121_2105.jpg
I was forced to join this crowd.
036-126_2641.jpg
037-0322-29.jpg
Gassho-zukuri minka houses slated for destruction were moved to this outdoor museum and saved.
037-121_2103.jpg
The crowd extended all the way to the rear. All to see the 3pm Ki-otoshi log drop.
037-126_2642.jpg
Shimo-sha Akimiya Shrine priests 秋宮
038-0322-30.jpg
038-121_2106.jpg
This was my view of the slope.
038-126_2645.jpg
Taiko performance at Shimo-sha Akimiya Shrine's Kaguraden
039-0322-33.jpg
039-121_2115.jpg
Thank goodness for telephoto lenses.
039-126_2644.jpg
Shimenawa sacred rope on Kaguraden
040-121_2117.jpg
We waited for the log scheduled to come down at 3 pm, but it was delayed by 2 hours...
040-126_2650.jpg
Onbashira Grand Park
040-IMG_9208.jpg
041-121_2118.jpg
We sat there for hours.
041-126_2666.jpg
Harumiya torii 春宮大門
041-IMG_9217.jpg
Fire hydrant
042-121_2128.jpg
Finally, people pulling the log appeared.
042-126_2668.jpg
On the way to Harumiya Shrine, you see this bridge. It is a rest stop for the Akimiya Onbashira log procession. 下馬橋
042-IMG_9418.jpg
Manhole in Shirakawa-go.
043-121_2132.jpg
043-126_2673.jpg
The bridge is normally closed to the public. In the old days, this bridge marked Harumiya Shrine's sacred area where even warlords had to get out of their palanquin or get off their horse out of respect before proceeding further. 下馬橋
043-IMG_9431.jpg
Shirakawa Village Office
044-0322-37.jpg
Dam reservoir
044-121_2137.jpg
The log pullers split into two.
044-126_2675.jpg
Harumiya Shrine ahead.
045-0322-35.jpg
Mihoro Dam, made only of rocks and clay. 131 meters high, 405 meters long.
045-121_2150.jpg
045-127_2710.jpg
Harumiya Shrine torii 春宮
046-121_2157.jpg
Then came the log, and a lotta dust which made it difficult to see what was going on.
046-126_2679.jpg
Harumiya has a little slope where the logs are slid down.
047-121_2160.jpg
This was Log No. 1 for Shimo-sha's Harunomiya Shrine.
047-126_2689.jpg
People everywhere.
048-121_2161.jpg
But my camera captured the log going down, even though I could hardly see it. Onbashira Festival, Shimosuwa, Nagano. 木落とし坂 春宮一之柱
048-126_2695.jpg
People along the small slope.
049-121_2162.jpg
It was over after a few seconds. We walked for an hour from the train station and waited hours for just a few seconds of mostly dust.
049-128_2815.jpg
This is May 9, 2004, the second day of Shimo-sha Shrine's Satobiki. Shimo-sha Shrine consists of two separate shrines called Akimiya and Harumiya.
050-121_2166.jpg
Now we walked back together with hundreds of thousands of people...
050-128_2819.jpg
Ropes to pull the Onbashira log from Harumiya Shrine.
051-121_2170.jpg
The Ax Man. He cuts the rope which sets the log loose down the slope.
051-128_2823.jpg
Log in Harumiya Shrine.
052-121_2172.jpg
The log heading to the Shimekake resting place. If you don't like crowds, don't see this festival. Also see photos of Shimo-sha Satobiki.
052-128_2833.jpg
Onbashira Log No. 1 already erected for Harumiya Shrine on May 8, 2004.
053-128_2843.jpg
Erecting Onbashira Log No. 4 for Harumiya Shrine on May 9, 2004. 春宮四之御柱
053-ONBASHIRA002.jpg
The Onbashira Festival's main event takes place at four different times in early April and early May, centering on Chino city and Shimosuwa town. It is the festival of Suwa Taisha Shrine consisting of the Kami-sha Shrine and Shimo-sha Shrine.
054-128_2849.jpg
Erecting Onbashira Log No. 4 for Harumiya Shrine on May 9, 2004. Shimosuwa, Nagano. 春宮四之御柱
054-ONBASHIRA005.jpg
Both the Kami-sha Shrine (in Chino and Suwa cities) and Shimo-sha Shrine (in Shimosuwa town) consist of a pair of shrines. So there are actually a total of four shrines involved in the festival.
055-128_2852.jpg
Everything is done with great fanfare, with these men riding on the log as it slowly rises by a system of cables and pulleys.
055-ONBASHIRA007.jpg
Held every 6 years (1998, 2004, 2010, etc.), this festival brings new logs from the mountain forest to all four shrines where they are erected. Each shrine receives four logs, so a total of 16 logs are cut and hauled to the shrines.Only a rope keeps the log from going down.
056-128_2855.jpg
"Yoisa! Yoisa!"
056-ONBASHIRA011.jpg
The hauling of the logs from the forest to a resting place near the shrine is called Yamadashi. The hauling route and schedule for the Kami-sha and Shimo-sha Shrines are different.
057-128_2858.jpg
Also see my video at YouTube.
057-ONBASHIRA019.jpg
The Yamadashi log hauling for the Kami-sha Shrine was held during April 2-4, 2004. Along the hauling route is a slope where the log is slid down while men ride on it.
058-128_2859.jpg
058-ONBASHIRA023.jpg
These photos show the slope for the Ki-otoshi (Log Drop) along the log-hauling route to Kami-sha Shrine in Chino and Suwa.
059-128_2862.jpg
059-ONBASHIRA027.jpg
This log drop is one of the highlights of the festival.
060-128_2869.jpg
When the log is erected, a banner is unrolled.
060-ONBASHIRA060.jpg
This is one log about to go down the slope. A total of 8 logs will go down this slope.
061-128_2870.jpg
The banner reads, "Thank you everyone for your cooperation."
061-ONBASHIRA070.jpg
The log is dragged to the edge of the top of the slope.
062-128_2878.jpg
062-ONBASHIRA090.jpg
063-128_2888.jpg
063-ONBASHIRA100.jpg
The log is tilted upward.
064-128_2891.jpg
Sake is given for free.
064-ONBASHIRA101.jpg
065-128_2896.jpg
065-ONBASHIRA112.jpg
At the bottom of the slope is a huge crowd watching the spectacle, Ki-otoshi or Log Drop, Onbashira-sai Festival.
066-129_2901.jpg
066-ONBASHIRA120.jpg
Ki-otoshi or Log Drop, Onbashira-sai Festival.
067-129_2903.jpg
The men now descend from the log.
067-ONBASHIRA130.jpg
The slope is near the train tracks.
068-129_2910.jpg
A few of them are acrobats. Also see my video at YouTube.
068-ONBASHIRA131.jpg
069-129_2915.jpg
Onbashira Log No. 3 for Harumiya Shrine.
069-ONBASHIRA138.jpg
070-129_2921.jpg
The base of the Onbashira log is reinforced by these smaller logs.
070-ONBASHIRA153.jpg
071-129_2945.jpg
Music Box Museum
071-ONBASHIRA169.jpg
072-129_2944.jpg
Parade
072-ONBASHIRA205.jpg
073-129_2928.jpg
One Onbashira log at a rest stop.
073-ONBASHIRA221.jpg
Each log is preceded by flag bearers.
074-129_2931.jpg
Ropes at rest
074-ONBASHIRA231.jpg
075-129_2936.jpg
The logs are pulled by people from various districts or parishes in the Suwa region including Chino, Shimosuwa, Okaya, and Suwa.
075-ONBASHIRA233.jpg
Another log coming to the slope.
076-129_2947.jpg
Another Onbashira log makes its way through.
076-ONBASHIRA236.jpg
077-129_2951.jpg
All the Onbashira logs are hauled manually by human hands from when it is cut in the mountain forest. No motor vehicles of any kind is used to haul the logs.
077-ONBASHIRA239.jpg
078-129_2952.jpg
078-ONBASHIRA258.jpg
079-129_2957.jpg
Onbashira Matsuri, Shimosuwa, Nagano. Also see my video at YouTube.
079-ONBASHIRA268.jpg
080-129_2960.jpg
The log can move quite fast, even with all those people riding it.
080-ONBASHIRA272.jpg
081-129_2961.jpg
081-ONBASHIRA285.jpg
082-129_2969.jpg
082-ONBASHIRA296.jpg
083-129_2973.jpg
This looks like Log No. 2 for Akimiya Shrine.
083-ONBASHIRA303.jpg
084-129_2975.jpg
These people are from Suwa city.
084-ONBASHIRA312.jpg
085-129_2982.jpg
Ax man
085-ONBASHIRA319.jpg
The ax man is ready to cut the rope.
086-129_2992.jpg
086-ONBASHIRA320.jpg
In one swing, he cuts the rope.
087-129_2999.jpg
Log standing by in front of Akimiya Shrine.
087-ONBASHIRA321.jpg
The rope snaps and the log slides down the slope.
088-129_3000.jpg
Onbashira-sai, Shimosuwa-machi, Nagano.
088-ONBASHIRA324.jpg
Another log comes to the slope.
089-130_3009.jpg
Log standing by in front of Akimiya Shrine.
089-ONBASHIRA327.jpg
A total of 8 logs are slid down this slope.
090-130_3015.jpg
090-ONBASHIRA329.jpg
091-130_3020.jpg
Parade continues even in the rain.
091-ONBASHIRA338.jpg
Everything is very ceremonial.
092-130_3024.jpg
Also see my video at YouTube.
092-ONBASHIRA357.jpg
Another obstacle along the route to the Kami-sha Shrine is this river.
093-130_3028.jpg
093-ONBASHIRA360.jpg
This river crossing, called Kawa-koshi, is another highlight of the festival. 川越し
094-130_3034.jpg
094-ONBASHIRA366.jpg
川越し
095-130_3037.jpg
095-ONBASHIRA370.jpg
Hairdo. Also see photos of Shimo-sha Yamadashi.
096-125_2591.jpg
Now it's May 10, 2004, the last day of the Shimo-sha Satobiki. All four logs will erected at Akimiya Shrine on this day.
097-130_3091.jpg
We waited in the rain for Onbashira Log No. 1 to be erected first at Akimiya Shrine at 10:00 am. However, we had to wait, standing up in the rain and in the crowd, for 2.5 hours before they finally started to raise the log.
098-125_2569.jpg
Finally, something to photograph.
099-125_2579.jpg
100-125_2589.jpg
They threw out free streamers and I caught one. "Yoisa! Yoisa!"
101-125_2598.jpg
102-131_3101.jpg
103-131_3118.jpg
They waved their pom-poms and cheered all the while.
104-131_3122.jpg
Also see my video at YouTube.
105-131_3124.jpg
Onbashira Festival. They included one woman.
106-131_3145.jpg
Banners unfurled.
107-131_3159.jpg
Now they descend.
108-131_3163.jpg
The only woman on the log. After this log-raising, I had seen enough. This No. 1 log offered the best view of all the four Akimiya logs.
109-131_3171.jpg
Lingering crowd. Also see photos of Shimo-sha Yamadashi.
179-IMG_8437.jpg
Hira mountains
1178 files on 5 page(s) 1