Strongman lifting heavy rice bales at the Chikaramochi festival in Koutou ward, Tokyo. The festival started as a contest among dock workers, and is today a very entertaining demonstration of strength and balance. The festival’s name comes from the grand finale, in which one of the strongmen lies down with dozens of rice bales on top of him, and then a wooden stage is set up on top of that, and a couple more guys climb up and use heavy wooden hammers to pound rice cakes. The festival is held on the third Saturday and Sunday in October. The only festival listings in English are on the Japan Times festival information webpage,but they’re full of inaccuracies, so call for the real times.
The festival is held in Kiba Park, 5 minutes walk from Kiba station on the Tozai subway line.

Editor’s note: this post was originally published in February 2008 and has been updated.