Could you imagine anything more interesting than 9,000 Japanese men running round in mid-winter in nothing but loincloths, competing for special sticks (shingi) to ensure they get good-luck for the following year?
The festival originated 500 years ago and different Hadaka Matsuri (Naked Festivals) are held in a number of places throughout Japan, but this one at Saidaiji Temple Okayama is considered the most original and as a result is the most famous.
People start to celebrate this festival in the afternoon having separate Hadaka Matsuri for children and later women have music and dance performances. Men start to make their way to the temple after a fireworks display. As the groups of men come together icy water is thrown over them as the participants shout ‘Wasshoi, Wasshoi’. At midnight the lights are turned off and the ‘shingi’ are thrown into the crowds, where the men compete for these lucky wands. The event looks like a battle in which only sumo wrestlers can take part. Even if someone is lucky enough to get a hold of one of them, they are quickly snatched away.
For spectators it is a fascinating event to watch, although it can get pretty crowded, especially as most try to crowd round the participants to get a real sense of the excitement. If this all seems a bit too much, it is possible to pay for seats at the event.
|Type of Activity:||Festivals & Parties|
|Address:||Saidaiji Temple, Okayama|