Twelve men were injured when multiple "mikoshi" portable shrines toppled during a festival in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, in central Japan earlier this month, according to local police and the city fire department.

The mikoshi portable shrine race at Hiyoshi Taisha shrine's annual Sanno Matsuri was being held on April 13, 2023, for the first time since the 2019 festival, after being canceled three consecutive years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sanno Matsuri in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, on April 13, 2023. 

The Shiga Prefectural Police said 12 men involved in carrying the portable shrines were injured, of whom 10 were taken to hospital by ambulance. All are believed to have sustained minor injuries, such as bruises, according to the fire department and other sources.

The portable shrines are believed to have toppled when some of the mikoshi bearers lost their balance and fell in a crowded area.

The police said the portable shrines toppled during a ritual in which the bearers compete to be the fastest to carry their mikoshi over a 60-meter course to Hiyoshi Taisha. As four portable shrines -- weighing about 1 ton each -- rocked violently back and forth, three of them toppled onto the bearers, according to the police and shrine officials.

No spectators were hurt.

A "funatogyo" procession, during which seven mikoshi portable shrines are transported to and from Lake Biwa, was held as scheduled the following day on April 14, according to the shrine. The festival wrapped up on April 15.

The Kyoto Shimbun

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