Naked Man Festival
The first photos from Nagoya’s Naked Man Festival. More will be available at my agent’s website and my own portfolio. This event was held as snow from the previous two days was still fresh and melting, so of course the participants need to be rolling drunk to do this, which means some fall over and scrap themselves on the ground. Also, a late afternoon cold wind whipped up so the ambulance crews arrived, perhaps to treat those suffering hypothermia.The Naked Man Festival (hadaka matsuri) is an annual event that began in the year 767ad, in the Nara Period. The event is held to removed bad luck and bestow good luck on the people. In the past, this event has attracted 180,000 spectators and 12,000 (naked) male participants.
The event features a number of motifs, including teams based on township, giving gifts to the Kounomiya shrine, being drunk on sake, climbing bamboo poles, giving strips of cloth to spectators (mainly to women), and more. The gifts that are given to the shrine include a tuna, a barrel of sake, banners and long bamboo poles. For the first time visitor the bamboo poles seem to be the most important part. The teams carry all of these things, and stop along the way to throw their bamboo pole up, erecting it, and someone will climb it. It seems that each town’s bamboo poles are different. I guess that the more support from the town equates to a bigger and better bamboo pole. These poles are wrapped in cloth and lashed with rice-hemp rope. The event is held according the the lunar calendar at about the second weekend after the Lunar New Year (or 15th January, lunar calendar). More information can be found at Nagoya Info and the English Wikipedia site.
More information from a blog post for the 2009 event:
The Naked Man Festival (Hadaka Matsuri) is an annual even held at Kounomiya, just outside of Nagoya City in central Japan. It’s held in the depths of winter and is a weekend-long event. The part that the public sees (and is shown in my portfolios) is held in the afternoon. The event date varies from year to year, according to the Chinese lunar calendar, but is held during the lunar New Year.
It began over 1,200 years ago, in the year 767, when Nara was the capital of Japan. At that time, there were plagues affecting the Japanese people, so Emperor Shotoku ordered special prayers to be said nation wide. The governor of Owari Province (now Aichi Prefecture) asked the shrine at Kounomiya to do something about this, and to remove the bad luck. So, the Naked Man Festival, held in the coldest time in winter was formulated.
How to get there:
From Nagoya Station, take the Meitetsu company Inuyama line limited-express train straight to Konomiya Station (actual spelling in Roman characters may vary). The trip should take about 12 minutes, for ¥350. Please check Hyperdia.Com for current schedules and ticket prices.