Generally speaking, Onbashira is not a children’s activity, for obvious reasons. They do take part in pulling with the village families way out in front of the pillar, where there’s a laid back, almost carnival like atmosphere (as opposed to the wildness around the hashira). Some children also play a prominent role in the festivities by joining kodomo-no-kiyari. The “Kiyari Kids” spend a long time practicing Onbashira’s songs of encouragement. The tradition has been around at least since the fifties, and it’s one way that the festival is passed on to the next generation.
Top photo by Emi Yamazaki