Consistently in February, huge loads of people in Japan gather up to celebrate the popular yearly Hadaka Matsuri, prevalently known as the “Naked Festival“. During this time, people have a great time in Okayama prefecture in the southern piece of Honshu island.
The Festival happens on the third Saturday of February at the Saidaiji Kannonin Temple, around a 30-minute train ride from Okayama city. This year, it was again celebrated paying little heed to the ongoing pandemic-Covid.
Indeed, the pandemic has had it spell on the occasion but the Hadaka Matsuri went on, with more than 10,000 men getting together to commend this exceedingly significant festival.
So What’s So Special About The Naked Festival?
The Hadaka Matsuri celebrates the blessing of a bountiful harvest, prosperity and fertility. The festival starts mid-afternoon with an event for young men, aimed at fostering interest in younger generations.
All members go through an hour or two going around the sanctuary grounds in arrangement and filter themselves with freezing cold water, prior to packing themselves into the fundamental sanctuary building.
However, if you’re thinking about a distinct stripped celebration, that is from it, in light of the fact that the Hadaka Matsuri Festival isn’t that way. The men aren’t pretty much as stripped as the name proposes. They wear an insignificant measure of attire; typically a Japanese undergarment called a “fundoshi” and a couple of white socks called “tabi.”
During the celebration, when the lights go out at 10 p.m., a cleric tosses 100 groups of twigs and two fortunate 20-centimeter-long consecrated shingi implement into the group from a window four meters above.
The great many men, who are stuffed in one spot, jar with one another to get hold of one of the packs as well as the two sticks. Whoever succeeds is ensured a time of favorable luck, as indicated by legend. The shingi are more pursued than the less-pined for twigs, which can be brought home.
The entire occasion endures around 30 minutes and members arise with a couple of cuts, wounds and hyper-extended joints. Members of this popular festival come from the different places across Japan and a couple from abroad to participate.
Notwithstanding, the Naked Festival which occurred on the twentieth February, was coordinated under severe social distancing, without onlookers. The men assembled at the Saidaiji Kannonin Temple to appeal to God for ripeness, an end to the pandemic and world harmony, while noticing health measures including social distancing.
The event has continued uninterrupted for more than 500 years, and that is the motivation behind why coordinators proceeded to commend it without thinking about the ongoing pandemic-coronavirus.
The Naked Festival evolved from a ritual that started 500 years ago during the Muromachi Period (1338-1573), when villagers competed to grab paper talismans, which were given out by a priest at the Saidaiji Kannonin Temple.
More and more villagers wanted those lucky paper talismans and the ritual grew in size. But they realized that when they went to grab the paper it ripped. Their clothes just got in the way too, so they eventually did away with them and exchanged paper for wood.
With its long heritage, the festival was also designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Asset in 2016. It’s one of several “naked festivals” held across Japan, with another held at Yotsukaido in Chiba prefecture, featuring men in loincloths fighting and carrying kids through mud as a method of exorcism.