Mukonage ＆ Suminuri （Groom Tossing ＆ Ash Smearing）
In this curious festival held in the Matsunoyama region of Tokamachi City,
newlywed grooms are thrown from the grounds of a shrine into the deep snow on the ground below. The mukonage is thought to have originated in the Edoperiod, where it was conducted as a way for the locals to even the score with the man who had taken away one of the village daughters in marriage. Today however, the meaning of the festival has changed, and it is simply a ritual to pray for a happy marriage and to strengthen the bonds between husband and wife.
After the mukonage has concluded, the villagers and visitors gather around a sai no kami bonfire which burns until the ground is covered in black ash. Mixing these ashes with the snow, everyone smears the mixture on each other’s faces shouting “Omedetou!” which means “Congratulations!”. This is done in celebration of the new year. Anyone can participate in this part of the event!
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