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Naked Man Festival, Okayama (Hadaka Matsuri)
The Saidaiji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri in Okayama, colloquially known as the naked man festival, is the largest of a series of similar festivals held around Japan. Thousands of naked men – well nearly naked, as they are wearing loin cloths – brave the cold February weather to compete for offerings thrown to them from the priests at the Saidaiji Kannon-in Temple in Okayama, in a frenzied take on the wedding bouquet rites.
Saidaiji Kannon-in Temple worships the thousand-armed Kannon and marks the start of the Chugoku Pilgrimage.
The men of Okayama have been carrying on this practice for more than 500 years. Originally it marked the end of the novice priests’ ascetic New Year training. Paper talismen or go-o were cast into the gathered throng by priests, and the more that were caught, the greater the luck that would befall the recipient for the forthcoming year.
As many as 10,000 men clad solely in loin cloths and tabi socks run around the temple grounds and through a freezing fountain, in order to purify both their body and souls. Their aim is to catch scented wooden sticks or shingi, which will bring them luck for the forthcoming year. Alternatively, they might just catch a cold. There is also a child-friendly version of the event.
Read on to discover more about Japan Winter Festivals.
Don’t worry if things get too cold for you, as the shopkeepers of Go Fuku Dori open their doors to provide much needed warm hospitality, as well as a bit of sake if good fortune smiles upon you.
If you wish to join in the festival, ensure you sign up in advance, otherwise you might be lacking your loin cloth.
Getting to the Naked Man Festival
To get to the festival, simply take the Ako Line from JR Okayama Station and disembark at Saidaiji Station. From there it is about a ten-minute walk.
Where is the Naked Man Festival (Hadaka Matsuri)
Saidaiji Kannon-in Temple,.
When is the Naked Man Festival(Hadaka Matsuri)
The festival is held on the third Saturday in February which in 2020 falls on 15 February.
Accommodation in Okayama
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More information about the Naked Man Festival (Hadaka Matsuri)
Mark Bibby Jackson
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