Happy New Year! Seeing the number of people infected with covid19 has been going down, many people may have spent the holiday in their hometown this year. My hometown is Chino City, Nagano Prefecture, in the Suwa region, at the foot of Yatsugatake Mountains in Shinshu. The area is a very popular destination in the summer seasons, including Tateshina, and is also known as the gateway for Yatsugatake climbers. Recently, it seems to be selected as a camping destination as well. Some of you may have heard of “Onbashira Festival” (commonly known as Onbashira) held in the year of Tiger and Monkey in the Chinese Zodiac.
Speaking of the “Onbashira Festival”, the most famous part of the festival may be “Kiotoshi” where the local participants straddle a giant tree and slide down the slope. The official name of Onbashira is Shikinen Zoei Mihashira Taisai. The history is 1000-year long. “Shikinen Zoei” refers to the form of rebuilding the shrine in a certain period of time. At Suwa Taisha Shrine, instead of the rebuilding the shrine, four Onbashira trees are placed vertically at the corner of the shrine, and the treasure hall is rebuilt.
The Onbashira Festival plays a role as a Shinto ritual, but I personally feel that this is a significant opportunity for local people to have this exciting experience together. People work hard together and even burst into tears because of the happiness of achieving something together. Cooperation and Unity often foster richer relationships. It is a pity that the BBQ event for the new students, which was organized annually at the Kashiwa Campus, did not happen due to coronavirus, and the Open campus was also held online. I hope 2022 will be the year of rebirth. I would like to continue following the Act on the Prevention of Infectious and respect doctors and medical staff who are fighting against this pandemic all the time.