I’ve covered the Kounomiya Naked Man Festival in the past; Kounomiya is the place and shrine near Nagoya, which is known in Japanese as Hadaka Matsuri, Hadaka means naked, and matsuri means festival. Below is the bigger spectacle in Okayama covered by the BBC just yesterday. Ceremonies for the Nagoya Kounomiya festival starts from this week, but the main event is on the 28th Feb 2018 (Kikuko Nagoya). If you want to participate in the this festival, you have less than 24 hours to can email Kikuko. Enjoy.
Correction: I just received an email alerting me to an error on a source website. The event is not 28th Feb 2017, but in 2018 (which is 13th January of the lunar year).
Are you thinking of what to do in Japan these Spring holidays? Look no further. Of course I talk mainly of Nagoya in central Japan. In case you don’t know. Nagoya is the major city in between Tokyo and Osaka. It is the home of the Toyota Motor Corporation, and the famous blue Central JR bullet trains. Land prices here rival that of Tokyo and London, and it’s one of the richest cities in the world. It’s also a convenient base for travellers. So, if you’re going to be in Japan and looking for travel ideas, start with these. Oh, and here’s one little trivial point to mention. The Spring holidays start mid-Winter (end of January), and finish in early Spring (early April). Don’t ask me why, just go with it.
For each below, there are links that include How to Get There information.
1. Plum blossoms
Plum flowers typically bloom in about the last week of February and last until about mid-March (depending on the species and the weather). These flowers have more petals than cherry blossoms, last longer, and have more vibrant colours. These flowers used to be the most revered until a Kyoto poet captured Japanese hearts for the cherry blossoms. Plum flowers can be enjoyed at many major parks, including private botanic gardens like Nabana no Sato, the Nagoya Agricultural Centre, and Higashiyama Park (at Higashiyama Koen Station, Higashiyama Line).
2. Osaka Sumo Tournament
The Osaka Sumo Tournament is a little unique. It’s the only sumo tournament where the wrestlers need to walk through the public areas between the fighting mound in the centre of the stadium, to the changing rooms out back. So you can get close enough to get clear photos of the wrestlers just before and after their bouts. The tournament runs from the second Sunday of March for fifteen days until the fourth Sunday. Tickets are available online and can be picked up at the venue from special machines; don’t forget your purchase code and info. Learn more about the sumo here at the Going to a Sumo Tournament post.
3. The Naked Man Festival
Don’t worry, they’re not all men; they’re not completely naked; and it’s not so much a festival that you have to take part in… unless you really want. It’s held annually on the 15th of January in the lunar calendar (usually between mid February to early March). In 2015 it was held on the 3rd March (Gregorian Calendar). The festival attracts about 13,000 participants (males from about 6 or 7yo, to those about 70 or 80. You’ll even see tattooed gangsters playing their part as members of the community, too. You’ll have to bump your way through a crowd of perhaps 150,000 to 200,000 spectators of mainly excited women and girls. The festival is also known as the Hadaka Matsuri (“hadaka” is ‘naked’, and “matsuri” is ‘festival’).
4. The Fertility Festival
Like the Naked Man Festival, this festival traces it’s roots to ancient Japan and is held with strong religious connections. It basically is a large wooden phallus being joyously carried through the Tagata township. On the internet it’s also known as the penis festival. It’s held on the 15th March each year (Gregorian Calendar). See here for specific info on the Tagata Fertility Festival.
5. Cherry blossoms / Sakura
Of course, no mention of Spring and Japan is complete without mentioning the delicate and fleeting petals of a tree that bears no fruit, yet covers almost every temple and shrine and park in the country for about one week. The image below was taken at Nagoya Castle. You can get there via the subway Meijo Line, at the Shyakusho-mae Station in downtown or central Nagoya. The castle is also a museum and has the Nagoya gymnasium which hosts the July summer sumo tournament. There are some specific things you can do in this fleeting time, typically one week, and it involves friends, alcohol, bad decisions, and can be day or night. Learn five things about hanami here (hanami literally means “flowers-see”).
Bonus: Tado Horse Festival
The Tado Horse Festival is held in the Golden Week holidays, the end of April and early May. It’s held in Tado, a small township just outside of Kuwana city, which itself is outside of Nagoya. The festival typically attracts about 120,000 spectators. It’s major.
This Photo of the Week is of the Naked Man Festival to be held this Wednesday. The festival began over a thousand years ago in Nara, and is held in Kounomiya, about a 20 minute train journey from the centre of Nagoya on the Meitetsu Line. It typically involves over 13,000 men (and boys), and unsurprisingly, over 180,000 spectators (more if it’s on on a weekend). The public spectacle begins at about 1pm (though you need to be there by about 11am for a good standing space), and it’s cold, and it has snowed in previous years. More information can be found in previous blog posts, and at Japan Visitor.
Every new year needs a review of the old. Ok, yes, this is coming a little late, but timed for when most people are back at work and can benefit from this. The top 5 photos are available at both my PhotoShelter portfolio and my agent’s website.
Actually, in my list of 100 top photos of all time, nothing from 2013 appears, yet. However, on a photographer’s social networking site, 500px, this was one of the top photos, and was listed at “Popular” for a couple of days: an achievement. Both models were a delight to work with, and it was a fun morning. Thanks Ana and Brooke 🙂 This photo is available on my PhotoShelter portfolio and can be seen at 500px.
Young twenty-something friends on a day out in Osaka.
What could be more popular than the above ‘City Angel’? Naked men giving each other wedgies, of course! The Naked Man Festival is a winter event, and will be on again soon, and yes, this really is one of the top 100 photos of all time. From a quick check of my previous blog posts, I’ve written quite a bit on the annual Naked Man Festival, held in Komaki, just outside of Nagoya.
I don’t know why, but Korean royalty is one of the most popular photos on JapanesePhotos.Asia. Obviously they are actors performing for tourists at Gyeongbok Palace. Incidentally, it was Japanese assassins who killed of most of the Korean royal family, paving way for a Japanese annexing of the peninsula starting from 1910 to 1945. This was a time when the Korean people were brutally treated (Wikipedia), and is still an open wound that current Japanese politicians do not or won’t understand (Japan Today).
I did this collection of photos with Ai in 2012, and this one was the top favourite in 2013. You can see my previous blog post of this photo in a tearsheet, and other previous Jazz Dance posts, too. It’s always a pleasure to work with jazz dancers, they know how to pose, they enjoy performing, and they have infinitely more energy than I. A new jazz dance project is in the planning stages for winter 2014, so keep an eye out for that, and please show support with microdonations on Flattr, every little bit helps.
About this time next month there will be the Naked Man Festival, aka Hadaka Matsuri, apparently on the 12th February (Kikuko’s Website). The festival doesn’t have men who are actually stark-naked, nor are they all men, there are boys there, too. Also, you might be thinking, “Next month? But it’s winter, isn’t it?”. Yes, it’s winter, and it’s cold, and it may snow. There is a historical reason for the festival, which involved famines, plagues, and such problems over a thousand years ago, and so the religious elite decided to have a festival where people endure the pain of the cold in order to life the blight afflicting them (JapanesePhotos.Asia/blog, Japan Visitor, Kikuko’s Website).
On Saturday the 16th February will be the Naked Man Festival to be held at Kounomiya, near Nagoya on the Meitetsu train line. It’s a major cultural event that attracts often a very willing and volunteer group of about 13,000 men (of various sizes and ages), and about 130,000 on-lookers (women of all ages, and a lot of guys, too). I’m sure because the event coincides with a weekend day this year, the crowds will swell… no pun intended. I will be icy cold after all. I’ve blogged about this event recently, providing a lot of info to help photo editors, so see here for that well-detailed info on the Naked Man Festival.