Traditional 'husband-throwing' event held to pray for happiness

Newly-wed grooms were thrown into a snowy hillside as part of a traditional New Year's event on Sunday in Niigata Prefecture, central Japan.

The annual event was held at a district in Tokamachi City. The custom dates back some 300 years.

It is said to have started when local men took revenge on men from different districts who married local women by throwing the outsiders into the snow.

This year, three newlywed couples took part in the event. Locals carried the husbands up a hill, and then threw them down a slope. The grooms rolled down it to their brides, who brushed the snow off their faces and clothes.

New husband Shiga Yoshiaki said he was nervous until he got thrown, but he said it felt good and was painless, thanks to the snow.

His wife, Haruka, said she was pleased to see her husband tossed high above. She said she was ready to become a family filled with joy.

Later, New Year decorations were burned in a bonfire. Participants mixed the ashes and snow, then smeared them on each other's faces to pray for good health during the coming year.