Lift a stone, prove your strength 力石

An older form of entertainment that is now unseen in Japan, was the lifting of heavy stones, often during festival times. Put simply, a test of strength. The rocks, which come in various sizes, are generally known as chikara ishi 力石, literally “strength stones.”

I heard from an older man that the measure of strength in his village was to lift the stone up on the shoulders and roll it around the neck three times. But we can imagine that some tests involved carrying or throwing the stone a certain distance as well. This was a popular sport in older times, but now it is often difficult to locate the stones that were used. Even the locals have forgotten and sometimes put the stones to other uses. But if you look carefully sometimes you can still find them at Shinto shrines.