Bow before my trouser snake!
The Straw Snake at the top shows a fun Japanese local tradition that requires getting “bitten” for luck. According to the Asahi News–Fukushima | Jan. 07, 2012, every January 7th, the kids of the Aizu district stop at houses and have the straw snake bite the head of the household to pray for health, prosperity, ample rain and a rich harvest. About 15 children under the age of 13 parade around the village carrying a 7 meter long straw snake that weighs about 30 kg. The Aizu district is in Fukushima Prefecture (home of the infamous nuclear power plant meltdown).
Throughout Asia, 2012 is the Year of the Snake (HebiNoGonenshi) making the straw snake’s bite especially auspicious even though the concentration of radioactive Cesium-137 of the rice straw in the Aizu district is 2,200 becquerels/kg (Japan’s provisional safety limit is 500 becquerels/kg set by the national government—EXSKF blog).
Learn more about the Straw Snake parade at the website of Aizu Misato-cho’s Office of Tourism (Google Translate). View additional photos the straw snake at Yahoo News and Asahi.com.