Naked Festival Takes Place
Author: peter Date: 14 November, Category: Educative, Visits 5781
[A Hadaka Matsuri (裸祭り [Naked Festival]) is a type of Japanese festival, or matsuri, in which participants wear a minimum amount of clothing; usually just a Japanese loincloth (called fundoshi), sometimes with a short happi coat, and rarely completely naked. Whatever the clothing, it is considered to be above vulgar, or everyday, undergarments, and on the level of holy Japanese shrine attire. Naked festivals are held in dozens of places throughout Japan every year, usually in the summer or winter. The most famous festival is held in Okayama, where the festival originated. Every year, over 9,000 men participate in this festival.
The origins of this festival date back 500 years when worshippers competed to receive paper talismans called Go-o thrown by the priest. These paper talismans were tokens of the completion of New Year ascetic training by the priests. As those people receiving these paper talismans had good things happen to them, the number of people requesting them increased year by year. However, as paper was easily torn, the talismans were changed to the wooden ofuda that we know today.
Naoi-shinji, also known as [Hadaka Matsuri (naked festival)], started in the year 767 AD, the Nara Period. This rite was founded on the fact that the governor of Owari Province (presently Aichi Pref.) visited the Owari Shosha Shrine (Konomiya shrine) to drive away evil spirits and calamities, because Emperor Shotoku ordered all the kokubun-ji to offer invocations to dispel plagues.
Shinto tradition believes that the Naked Man absorbs all bad luck and evil deeds from the men who touch him – no-one is sure, but the ritual may commemorate the end of a plague, as the Naked Man takes on the ills of the community and is then expelled from it.
It is a great honour to be chosen as the Shin-otoko. It needs to be – first he must undergo elaborate purification rites by shaving off all the hair on his body. He then sets off through the streets, besieged by over 9000 men, all desperate to touch him. He is pummelled, chased, pulled over; he faints, is bruised and must spend an entire day in the thick of a heaving mass of loinclothed bodies while completely naked. When he finally arrives at his destination, the crowd jostle to grab any available part of his body for an hour or more before he can pay his respects to the Shinto deity of the shrine. Once he is dressed he is then shooed out of town to rid the town of all evil.
Only the men dressed in loincloths (fundoshi) and sandals are allowed to touch the Naked Man and special bodyguards line the route to splash freezing water over them as the Naked Man draws near. This has the dual purpose of restraining the wild impulses of the loinclothed ones while creating an aura of mystery around the steaming man]. – Wikipedia
Photos: Japanese men wear loincloths as they splash about in freezing cold water during Saidaiji Naked Festival, at Saidaiji Temple on February 18, 2012 in Okayama, Japan. Saidaiji Naked Festival (Hadaka Matsuri) is one of Japans more eccentric festivals and take a place each year in the winter. About 9,000 men take part and battle to grab for pair of lucky sticks thrown by priests. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)