Takeuchi Festival

  • Name: Takeuchi Matsuri
  • Location: Rokugo, Misato, Japan.
  • Date: February 15.
Akita winter + booze=

Festival description

Half street brawl and half war game, the Takeuchi Matsuri is also pure mayhem. Every February 15th -- one day after a presumably peaceful Valentine's Day -- townsfolk divide themselves into team North and team South, and face off on an open field. After downing many rounds of sake, the men of the small Japanese town don helmets and grab 20-foot bamboo poles in preparation for a real battle.

In three rounds, participants proceed to whack the opposing team with their sticks, causing welts and cuts to the "enemies'" torsos, legs and arms. If that weren't enough, fighters are so jacked up by round three that fire is thrown into the mix, as the poles are lit. Eventually, this last round turns into an all-out brawl, as drunken Japanese guys forget about tradition (if the North wins, it signals a good rice harvest for the coming year) and beat opponents with poles and their fists.

What not to miss: Round three, obviously, which offers more hooligan fights than an English soccer match.

See also