Japan: Bridegrooms hurled downhill

Bridegroom being thrown downhill Image copyright Mainichi Shimbun

The centuries-old ritual of hurling bridegrooms into snow is alive and kicking in a Japanese town, reports suggest.

Three men were tossed down a hill in Matsunoyama, Niigata Prefecture, as part of the a festival to celebrate the lunar new year, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper .

The men were carefully selected from a pool of applicants, the paper says, quoting one who had been one of the throwers for the past seven years. "Finally, it's my turn to be thrown!" he told the paper, completely covered in snow after rolling down the 16ft hill.

The festival could be anything between 300 and 600 years old, and is believed to have been started by village youths enacting revenge against other men for "stealing their young women".

According to the Niigata Prefecture tourism guide, bridegroom-throwing is followed up by a visit to a shrine, where visitors paint each others' faces with ink made from sacred ashes, and pray for health and prosperity in the New Year.

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