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Things to do / Cultural/Entertainment

Mukonage and Suminuri

Throwing your son-in-law around is a no-no, but one event in Tokamachi, Niigata Prefecture, this weekend encourages you to toss husbands into the snow for a happy marriage.

From 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 15, the city will hold a mukonage, a tradition in which male newlyweds are thrown into the snow-blanketed ground near Yakushido Temple.

The tradition supposedly began during the Edo Period (1603-1868), when locals took it upon themselves to teach a lesson to a man who had taken one of their daughters as his wife by flinging him into the air. These days, however, each man is thrown with the hope that marital bliss will result.

The deadline to sign up for the husband-throwing event has passed but you can still join in the fun by watching.

The festive mood will continue when the locals move to a nearby spot to build a bonfire. If you decide to take part in this activity, make sure to wear something you don't mind getting dirty. Participants in happi coats will smear black ink — made with a mixture of cinders and snow — on your face before the flames go out. (Yuki Yamauchi)