Yassa Festival is held on September 29 every year at Wakamiya Hachimangu Shrine in Minakami-machi, Gunma Pref. The young men in loincloth run about in the precinct with each of them grabbing another man’s waist belt of the cloth, calling “Yassa, Mossa, Shinjuro!” After hustling and jostling or lying on the ground, they climb up the pillars of the main hall one after another to snatch away the big bell. It is said that if someone can successfully snatch away the bell, good crops of the year is promised. The origin of the festival is unknown but there are several stories about it. One story goes that once upon a time, when the village was damaged by a flood, young villagers saved the lives of victims by roping themselves together. Another story goes that about 400 years ago during the battle of Nagurumi Castle, A warrior named Shinjuro Oki directed the villagers to a safe place by having them grasp his koshi-himo belt. Yassa Festival is a simple but gallant festival with a history of 400 years.
- Shimozu, Minakami-machi, Gunma Prefecture 379-1314
- Wakamiya Hachimangu Shrine