During the Festival
Ombashira Festival has a history of over 1200 years and is a very important ritual for the local people of Suwa. Please refrain from entering restricted areas to take pictures. It is considered very dangerous and prohibited. Please listen to the instructions of the festival attendants, follow the rules and act responsibly.
About Suwa Taisha Shrine
Suwa Taisha consists of 4 shrines; South of Lake Suwa are Mae-miya and Hon-miya and North of Lake Suwa are Aki-miya and Haru-miya. Around Japan there are over 10,000 branch shrines. It is one of the oldest shrines in Japan. In ancient times people would worship the gods of hunting and farming, during the period of the samurai they would worship the gods for success in war. Now, people worship the gods for industry, road safety, marriage, safe birth, health, etc.
About Onbashira Festival
Onbashira Festival is a Shinto ritual that has been carried on for over 1200 years. It occurs every seventh year at Suwa Taisha Shrine. In the festival, the Houden is rebuilt, and the four fir pillars surrounding the main building of the four shrines are replaced. The fir pillars are taken from the mountains and pulled to the shrine, this is known as Yamadashi and Satobiki. This series of rituals are the Ombashira festival. The Kiotoshi at Shimosha during Yamadashi is especially well known because of the hikiko with all their might pull the giant pillars down the steep slope.
・Why are the pillars replaced?
In Shinto, there is the belief of Tokowaka, where constant renewal purifies the spirit. Based on this belief the pillars are replaced periodically.
・Why are there four pillars?
Even now it is still a mystery of why there are four pillars, but some believe that they are there to provide protection or that they act as a bridge for the gods or that they are the border between the gods and the shrines.
Komiya Ombashira Festival
In the year of the Ombashira Festival from mid-August to October, across the Suwa area there are many small shrines where people gather are known as Komiya. During Autumn, when you hear the song of kiyari, this is the sign of Komiya Ombashira Festival. Visitors may also participate in moving and mounting the pillar. Greet the smiling hikiko and join the festival.