Hadaka Matsuri: Naked Men Festival
Men, loincloths, sacred sticks, unlimited beer & Saki…put these together and you’re on your way to Japan’s Naked Men Festival, locally known as Hadaka Matsuri.
The bizarre festival takes place each year on the 17th of February in the Saidaiji Kannon-in temple in Okayama City where over 10,000 men dressed in nothing but loincloths battle over sacred sticks believed to bring good fortune. Technically, they’re not naked but close to it.
Hadaka Matsuri dates back more than 500 years ago when locals go head to head to walk away with one of the paper talismans tossed by the priest.
Through the years, the number of participants grew as hundreds of affirmations on how the talismans brought them a year’s worth of good fortune made the rounds. Paper easily gets crumpled so the talismans were later replaced with wooden sticks. Paper easily gets crumpled so the talismans were later replaced with wooden sticks.
Fun Fact # 1: As to why these men are naked, Japanese locals believe that nakedness symbolizes rebirth and wards off misfortune.
What to Expect
You’ll be relieved to know that the festival is only exclusive to male participants so if you’re up to the task, you’re free to join in. A kit complete with tabby socks, a loincloth, plus a professional to ensure small piece of cloth stays put—all for ¥3,000.
When you bring thousands of booze-fueled, semi-naked men in one place, you can expect a lot of noise, making the festival a sight to behold. You’ll see loincloth-clad men walking with their arms locked in with each other while making their way to the temple grounds where the action happens.
Fun Fact # 2: HadakaMatsuri’s main event is held an hour before midnight when the temperature can get as low as 30ºF.
Aside from the main event, a junior version of the festival also happens earlier in the day where young, schoolboys compete for their own set of luck sacred bamboo sticks.
The festival isn’t all about nakedness and sacred sticks, visitors can bask in the traditional taiko beats complete with Japanese traditional performances.
How to Get There
To experience this sought-after festival, simply ride the fast bullet train from Kyoto or Osaka station going to Okayama and head straight to the Saidaiji Temple!
Hadaka Matsuri Festival
Saidaiji Temple, Okayama, Okayama Prefecture 704-8116, Japan