8. Dosojin Matsuri (Japanese Shrine Burning festival)
How do people in the Japanese town of Nozawa Onsen ring in the New Year? They get loaded on sake and nearly set each other on fire.
The Dosojin Matsuri festival kicks off on the morning of January 13. Villagers build a giant shrine while pounding sake. As night falls, bon fires are set and inebriated partiers use them to light torches.
42-year-olds gather on top of the shrine. Down below, 25-year-olds form a protective barrier armed with nothing but pine boughs. Everyone else picks up a torch and charges with full force at the 25-year-olds, as they try to set the shrine on fire. The men push and shove their drunken assailants while desperately trying to swat out fires with pine boughs. Above, the old men heckle the mob and launch kindling.
Hours later, the old men finally call it quits and descend the shrine. Then, everyone gets together and slams some more sake while they watch that mother burn.
Happy New Year!