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Around 10,000 men participated in Japan's annual “Naked Festival” on February 15
The Naked Festival, also known as Hadaka Matsuri, is celebrated in the Saidaiji Kannonin Temple in the Okayama prefecture
The event is observed on the third Saturday of every February, 30 minutes away from the city
Though the festival's name implies that participants are naked, all the men wear a bit of clothing
Each participant wears a “fundoshi” and a “tabi,” a Japanese loincloth and white socks
All of this close contact has made many fearful of the possibility of infection from COVID-19
Participants this year were not advised to wear face masks but were provided with hand sanitizers
The festival is meant to celebrate prosperity and fertility
The event begins at 3:20 p.m. with an activity for young boys
While waiting for the main event, the men run around for a couple of hours
Some of them soak in cold water to purify themselves
Traditional dancers and female drummers perform before a firework event at 7 p.m.
Villagers also open their stores at the shopping street, Gofuku-dori
At 10 p.m., a priest from the temple throws two shingi sticks and 100 bundles of twigs into the crowd
The priest does this from a window above them, about four meters high
The shingi sticks, around 20 centimeters long, are supposed to be lucky
It is said that the men who find these two sticks during the event become the luckiest men of the year
Once the priest throws the sticks into the crowd, all the men start scrambling to find them
Because there isn't much space for the 10,000 men to move around, some participants get injured
These injuries range from small wounds to painful sprains
Participants come alone or in a group, representing themselves or their companies
Even foreign tourists come to the temple to take part in the festival
The Naked Festival has experienced many changes since it began in the Muromachi Period, around 500 years ago
Back then, villagers would go to the same temple to receive paper talismans from a priest
The popularity of the paper talismans grew until the number of attendees increased as well
Because so many people wanted the talismans, the paper would rip and their clothes would give them a difficult time
This led to the temple's decision to use wood and get rid of clothing
In 2016, Japan designated the Naked Festival as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Asset
Intangible Cultural Properties are assets that are historically or artistically valuable to the country
Those who are considered masters of a certain artistry technique or holders of the property are taken care of by the government
Japan provides them with special grants and pays for successors to be trained in order to keep the tradition alive
The Naked Festival in Okayama is but one of many Japanese naked festivals
The Yotsukaido, also attended by men in February, is celebrated in the Chiba prefecture
Participants of that festival fight in loincloths and carry children through mud as a form of exorcism
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Japan celebrates "Hadaka Matsuri", annual Naked Festival

51 Folder Collection
eunice4u4u published on February 17, 2020
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