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4/2/2004--Suwa, Japan..A log from the previous Onbashira Festival stands tall inside the Shinto Shrine in Suwa...The basic purpose of the 1200 year old Onbashira Festival is rooted in Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan. In the Shinto way of thinking, the Gods, or kami, are living in the natural environment which surrounds human beings. The Onbashira Festival serves as a reminder of the importance of nature to human beings: large fir trees (symbolic "gods") are brought down from the mountains, carried into town and set to stand at the outskirts of the Suwa Grand Shrine. In this way, the people of the Suwa region never completely lose their contact with nature and the gods, and they renew this contact at least once every 6 years through Onbashira Festival..Photograph by Stuart Isett.©2004 Stuart Isett. All rights reserved