Hiburi Kamakura Festival
In the old samurai neighborhood of Kakunodate, a brilliant festival marks the start of the Lunar New Year. The Hiburi Kamakura festival originated as a purification ritual, when villagers would attempt to drive away evil spirits that might bring ill-health to their families or prevent a bountiful harvest. Amidst a landscape of snow, straw bags filled with charcoal are tied to long lengths of rope and set alight. Daring participants hold the opposite end and begin to swing the blazing bag in a wide circle around their bodies. This high-octane festival draws thousands of visitors from Japan and abroad every year.