For those not afraid to detour off the well-trodden path, the unique Shujo Onie in Kunisaki Peninsula in Oita is well worth the effort. Held every February at Tennen-ji Shrine, it’s said this celebration has a history that goes back over 1,000 years.
A way to pray for a good harvest in the new year, the event’s rituals feature freezing river swimming and a giant bonfire. The final part of the celebration is the most thrilling; two demons make their way around the city's main shrine, banging fire and spreading the burning ashes.
A little more dangerous than most other festivals, if you survive, you’re bound to have a good year.