Google+ Odd and Strange - World of Odd Stuff, Fun Facts and Bizarre Stories: Hadaka Matsuri - Inside One of Japan's Strangest Festivals

06 October 2012

Hadaka Matsuri - Inside One of Japan's Strangest Festivals

Hadaka Matsuri, the strange Japanese festival of naked men. I’ve always been fascinated by Japan. As a kid, the first thing that used to click in my mind on the word ‘Japan’ were Robots. I thought of them as super humans living a life we could only watch in sci-fi movies. But as I learned more about them, I found out that the Robots are not the most amazing thing about the Japanese, it was their culture. The Japanese have been blessed with one of the world’s richest cultures.
One important aspect of the Japanese culture is their festivals. These festivals not only reflect their brilliant culture but also their rich historical background. Here we introduce Hadaka Matsuri, one of the three most eccentric festivals of Japan.

hadaka matsuri

What is Hadaka Matsuri?

Hadaka Matsuri, Japanese for “Naked Festival”, is a strange festival which involves men only dressed in loincloths, fiercely competing to get hold of a pair of sacred lucky sticks, the “Shingi”.  Anyone who luckily gets a shingi and manages to stick it upright in a wooden box filled with rice, called the masu, is blessed with a year of happiness.

Hadaka Matsuri - Japan

Where Is It Held?

Okayama - Japan

The Hadaka Matsuri festival is now held in various cities of Japan but the biggest one takes place in the city of Okayama which is attended by more than 10,000 men from all over Japan. The city of Okayama is also the origin place of the festival.

How It all Started?

Like many other Japanese festivals, Hadaka Matsuri has its roots in the ancient culture of Japan. It all started about 500 years ago when farmers struggled to get the lucky talismans from the priests. The paper talismans, known as Go-o, were the tokens of completion of the New Year Ascetic training. The talismans are now made up of sticks which are considered to be the “sticks of God”.
These talismans, prized as lucky charms, were thought to bring good luck and it was believed that the they protect their possessor from all types of accidents and injuries, even death. As time went on, the number of people requesting the talismans increased and so as their importance. This gave rise to the Hadaka Matsuri festival as we know it today.

Hadaka Matsuri

What's It All About?

A struggle with 10,000 men can sound a fiery job. But for the Japanese, well they can do anything for their 365 days of happiness.
The festival takes place every year in the cold season. The n@ked crowd, shouting ‘Wasshoi! Wasshoi’, wait outside the temple. Precisely at midnight, the sticks are thrown into the crowd and the men rush to grab a stick. Cold water is sprayed heavily on the raging men as they struggle ambitiously for the lucky charm. Even if you manage to grab a stick, it will be quickly snatched away by others. Its almost like the Japanese version of rugby, with no clothes. ;)

Hadaka Matsuri - Naked Festival

Hadaka Matsuri - Naked Festival

Hadaka Matsuri - Naked Festival

Hadaka Matsuri - Naked Festival

So, do you think that the Shingi is worth of a competition with 10,000 men. Speak out and like always, I'd be most eager to hear from you.
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