Hadaka Matsuri: Thousands take part in Japan’s ‘Naked Festival’

Peter Stubley
Naked men in loincloths compete to become 'luckiest man of the year' in Japan: REUTERS

Ten thousand men stripped off to take part in “Hadaka Matsuri”, an annual naked festival in Japan‘s Honshu Island.

The loincloth-clad competitors gathered at the Saidaiji Temple in Okayama Prefecture for the event to celebrate prosperity and fertility.

Their aim was to snatch one of two 20cm-long “shingi” wooden sticks thrown by a priest into the crowd.

The sticks, thrown among 100 bundles of twigs, are meant to bring a year of good fortune to whoever is lucky enough to catch them.

The ritual is thought to have started some 500 years ago.

Men dressed in loincloths react as a priest splashes water on them before they prepare to snatch a wooden stick called ‘shingi‘ (REUTERS)

Similar naked festivals are held throughout Japan every year, as part of a tradition that is said to stretch back 500 years.

The event also includes bathing in cold water for an hour or two to purify the soul.