Harumiya 4’s Yamadashi (video edition)

On April 8th, Minato’s Harumiya 4 pillar had their Yamadashi, the first part of the Onbashira festival. From the start at Tanakoba far up the Higashi-mata Valley to the end point at Shimekake, it was a raucous and energetic day. Kiotoshi, the pillar riding ceremony, was one for the ages.  Shoichi Ajisawa was at the Hananori position at the front of the pillar (pictured above). Once again this year Kiotoshi was smooth and incident free.

The first video covers Yamadashi up through Kiotoshi. The fall is at 7:00, but the false starts before are an interesting part of the process. The view is from the top of the slope.

Next, the moment that started off Kiotoshi—the Yoki-tori, Hidetomo Yamazaki, cutting the rope to send the pillar on its way. From 7:30

And finally, a unique view of Kiotoshi from the bottom of the hill…and a close call!

Top photo by Emi Yamazaki


The Yoki-tori (斧取り) has a unique and important role in Onbashira. He uses a ceremonial ax to cut the rope that holds the hashira suspended over the edge of the log riding slope (kiotoshizaka). When the blade slices through the air, severing the rope, the pillar falls. There’s enormous pressure to cut it cleanly in one go. This year’s Yoki-tori for the Harumiya 4 pillar is Hidetomo Yamazaki. When asked what he’s most looking forward to during the festival, he said, “Connecting with everyone and concentrating on cutting the rope!” The short video of his recent practice below shows he’s off to a good start!

"For Onbashira," 2016. With the official Suwa-taisha seal

“For Onbashira,” 2016. With the official Suwa-taisha seal