True story: in the course of 2 hours I saw over 9000 men in thong diapers fighting for a stick. No this wasn’t a bar fight gone terribly wrong, its actually a 500 year old religious festival known as Hadaka Matsuri, or the Naked Festival.
Each year on the third weekend of February thousands of men gather at the Saidaiji Temple, wearing a fundoshi (Japanese loincloth) and attempt to get ahold of a blessed stick. The temple priests bless these sticks and those who gain possession of the sticks will be blessed for the rest of the year.
The minimal clothing is actually a safety precaution as well as tradition. As the fight for the sticks became larger the men’s clothing started to get torn off, so they just stopped wearing clothes. As I hear things got pretty intense in the heap and any additional clothing would have been ripped off anyway. The men even have to tape their socks to their feet. The fight gets pretty intense, people die almost every year getting crushed or trampled. (Luckily there weren’t any deaths this year) So after hearing all the hype we had to witness / participate in such an event. (Girls/ Women are not allowed to participate, and that was totally OK. Glad I got the easy out)
Although the stick doesn’t get tossed till 10, there’s plenty to do throughout the night. Tons of food stalls were set up just outside the temple, and there we even fireworks before the event. So the group got to spend some time together before our boys went off to lose their clothes.
There are so many participants that people start to line up 2 hours before the stick gets tossed. All participants run a lap around the temple and through a pool of holy water to get cleansed. Even before the sticks get thrown things get dicey. I mean its not easy to fit several thousand men in a temple so there’s gonna be some squeezing.
From what I heard from the boys it was really intense. They were forced to go with the flow of the crowd and some times that meant getting pinned to a piller, someone’s elbow, or pushed down a flight of stairs.
We could see most of the action from our post and were pretty worried about the boys the whole time.
Luckily everyone got out safe, and they even held the sticks which is pretty difficult. This was one festival that I was happy to simply observe, and I’m glad I got to take in such an event. However the image of so many butts has been burned into my eyes, and might be pretty hard to shake off.
If that wasn’t enough naked for ya, feel free to check out these vids fromt the event: