Niigata Prefecture Tourism Association

Tokamachi Son-in-Law Throwing Event

Experience this quirky tradition in Niigata

Kim   - 2 min read
When : Mid Jan 2023

Japan is known for having some pretty quirky festivals and events (this article covers some of the more popular ones), and there are plenty more where those came from. A staple on the Niigata winter calendar is the Tokamachi muko (son-in-law) throwing event, and it's one unique way to welcome in a new member of the family.

The event takes place on January 15th every year, and involves new husbands being thrown off a 5 meter-high cliff on the grounds of Yakushidou Temple at Matsunoyama Onsen. That may sound a little harsh – dangerous, even – but the area is blanketed with snow which acts like a cushion for the fall. The new husbands are also encouraged to have a few drinks before the throwing happens, with local sake proving to be a popular choice.

New grooms are paraded around the area before being thrown off a 5 meter cliff
New grooms are paraded around the area before being thrown off a 5 meter cliff (Photo: Niigata Prefecture Tourism Association)

Originally, the event was said to be an act of retribution for a man "taking" one of the local women to be their wife, but these days it's seen as a way of wishing a marriage good luck and prosperity.

The throw is scheduled for approximately 2.30pm this year, but do note that can be subject to change.

Getting there

Tokamachi's Matsunoyama Onsen is around 20 minutes by bus from Matsudai Station, which is served by the Hokuhoku Line.

For those who opt to drive, the venue is around 40 minutes by car from the Shiozawa-Ishiuchi IC on the Kan-Etsu Expressway.

Kim

Kim @kim.b