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Pictures from La Tomatina 2015

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The biggest food fight in the world takes place every year in Buñol, Spain, not far from Valencia. La Tomatina sees thousands of people gather to toss a hundred metric tons of tomatoes at each other.

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In recent years, tickets have been issued to limit tomato fight participants to 20,000 people. Yet spectators swell that number considerably. The festival is actually a week long, with parades, cooking contests, dancing, and fireworks.

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The 2015 tomato fight was yesterday. One of the highlights was when Google’s Street View car drove into the mess, and was pelted with a good share of tomatoes. Street View had planned to collect “before and after” pictures, but a timing mistake meant that Google only got photos “during.”   

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Yesterday’s event marked the 70th anniversary of La Tomatina, which was an occasion for a congratulatory Google Doodle. If they had only known what would happen, they could have included the Street View car in the art.

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Strangely, Buñol doesn’t even grow tomatoes. The town relies on the province of Extremadura for its tomatoes, both for eating and for the festival. By late in August, the tomato producers of Extremadura have plenty of overripe or other-than-top-grade tomatoes for the festival.  

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The traditional signal for the tomato fight to begin is complex. A ham is suspended from a greased pole in the town square. Participants struggle to retrieve the ham. When someone finally does, a cannon fires, initiating the free-for-all.

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It takes an hour or two for all the tomatoes to be thrown, and then the cannon fires again, which is a signal for the fight to stop.

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By then, the streets are ankle-deep in tomato pulp! Firefighters are on hand to hose down the participants, although some prefer to jump into the nearby Buñol River.  

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A good time was had by all. Make your plans now for La Tomatina 2016, which will be held on August 31st.

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11-Headed Buddha Statue to Be Revealed in Japan for First Time in 33 Years
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Buddha statues come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The various poses and hand gestures of the Buddha represent different virtues, and any items he happens to be holding—say, a lotus flower or a bowl—have some religious significance.

But not all Buddha relics are created equal, as evidenced by the reverence paid to one particularly holy statue in Japan. The 11-headed figure is so sacred that it has been hidden away for 33 years—until now. Lonely Planet reports that the Buddha statue will be revealed on April 23 during the Onsen Festival in Kinosaki Onsen, a coastal town along the Sea of Japan that’s famous for its hot springs. The statue is kept inside Onsen-ji Temple, a religious site which dates back to 738 CE.

Al altar inside Onsen-ji temple

Patrick Vierthaler, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The big Buddha reveal, however, will be held elsewhere. For that, festivalgoers will need to ride a cable car to the top of Mount Taishi, where they’ll catch a glimpse of Juichimen Kanzeon Bosatsu, a name which means “11-faced goddess of compassion and mercy.” It will be hard to miss—at 7 feet tall, the statue would tower over most NBA players. Considered a natural treasure, it’s displayed in three-year blocks once every 33 years. So if you miss the initial reveal, you have until 2021 to catch a glimpse.

“The people of Kinosaki are very excited about this event, especially the younger generation," Jade Nunez, an international relations coordinator for the neighboring city of Toyooka, told Lonely Planet Travel News. "Those who are under 30 years old have never seen the statue in its entirety, so the event is especially important to them."

After paying their respects to the Buddha, festival attendees can take a dip in one of three hot spring bathhouses that will be free to use during the Onsen Festival.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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Miami to Host Inaugural Canine Film Festival
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There’s an annual festival dedicated to internet cat videos, so it only makes sense that dog-lovers would create their own film event. As the Miami New-Times reports, the Magic City will host the inaugural Canine Film Festival on July 15 and 16. The fundraising event encourages movie lovers to enjoy submitted flicks with their furry friends.

The festival will take place at the Cinépolis Coconut Grove and Hotel Indigo in Miami Lakes. Festivities kick off on the first day with “A Day at the Movies With Your Dog,” featuring film screenings attended by dogs and humans alike. Other events scheduled throughout the weekend include a dog fashion show, dog yoga, silent auctions, a canine costume contest, an after-party at Miami Lakes' Hotel Indigo, and an awards ceremony.

Admission costs $10 to $1000, and 50 percent of ticket proceeds will benefit local animal rescues and shelters. For more information, visit the Canine Film Festival's website.

[h/t Miami New Times]

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