Naked Man Festival (Hadaka Matsuri) Complete Report for 2015

Are you planning to participate in the 2015 Naked Man Festival (Hadaka Matsuri)?
Here’s the Complete Report for the Naked Man Festival.

I participated in the 2013 festival and it was … amazing!
It’s possible to go it alone and just enter on the same day.
I filmed the event for ONLY in JAPAN (see video) and hope it can act as a guide with this post.

The Costs:
You don’t need to reserve in advance. It’s possible to just go to Saidaiji Temple and pop into a tent to change.
The tents have a charge (3000 yen or so) and also can provide the loin cloth (fundoshi), socks and head band.
Many independent tents can sell you a whole package with all the good included.
Many of the Japanese people at the tent can speak a little English, but you should learn some Japanese so you can communicate when things get crazy.

Tent
A tent for participants to change, No affiliation to a group is necessary. Just pay for use on the day of the event.
nakedman_fundoshi
You can buy tape and fundoshi loin clothes at the tent. Locals will help you put it on.
Go to the toilet BEFORE you put on your fundoshi!
Inside the tents for people joining on the day of the event.
Inside the tents for people joining on the day of the event.

The Participants:
About 5-10% of the participants are foreigners!
The number is increasing so you’re sure to meet up with people from the USA, Canada, Australia, Europe and South America.
Japanese people are usually quite shy, but during the festival, it’s a great time to get to know people and make friends. Be ready for the usual “where are you from?”
Many Japanese TV networks also like to interview foreign participants. They want to know why you’re here and what you think about the event. This festival gets national news every year.

Things to bring:
* Tape (white) to keep your tabi socks on. [no shoes allowed]
* A few towels and a blanket.
* Food and a bottle of sake or beer to share with people in your tent.
*

Photography:
You are not supposed to take photos while participating in the event.
It helps to have a friend with you who is not participating so they can take photos and offer assistance should you need it.
If you do bring a camera, tuck it deep in the wrapping of your loin cloth.
Make sure it is water proof! A dip in the pool is required for cleansing. Be aware that police may take your camera from you should they see it.

The History:
Learn it before you go.
There is a reason for this event dating back to 600AD.

Be very respectful. You’ll get your feet stomped on and get pushed and get hit in the head. It’s all accidental and part of the dangers.
If you decide to go inside the shrine to try to get a lucky stick (shingi) please be aware that you do not want to be on the sides of the temple by the stairs.
Everyone here gets toppled over the sides! If you’re serious, get inside early and be prepared to battle for position for 90 minutes or more.
During the “battle for position” inside, police and emergency responders often drag bodies out from people knocked unconscious.
I arrived a little late and was on the outskirts of the temple. It was still dangerous there. I could not feel my feet after a while.

What happens?:
At around 22:00, a bundle of shingi (lucky sticks that are scented) are dropped onto the group from a window above.
The 9000 participants fight to get one. It can get violent and turn ugly.

nakedman_shingi
The scented sticks dropped into the group of naked men at 22:00.

Getting a SHINGI:
If you get one, don’t let anyone see it and start moving out of the temple. Hiding it in your fundoshi is one way. If someone sees it, they will often try to rip it from your hands.
If a group sees it, they’ll all try to get it from your hands! Pile ons occur. It’s good to have friends, if you know what I mean.
These sticks are highly prized and getting one is something you tell your grandkids one day. This is especially true for the locals.
So … getting lucky and finding a stick can be a curse! Just watch yourself until you not only leave the temple but get into the tent and get dressed.

Warmth:
Be prepared for the cold … mentally anyway. Be prepared to get wet! Throwing water on participants gets them moving faster and staying warmer.
But, the reality is that it is not as cold as you think.
During the event, men are huddled together and this provides a lot of warmth coupled with the running.
At the end of the first part, we went back to the tent and warmed up before the battle for the lucky sticks.
After the first run around, I can’t recommend taking off your wet socks for new ones. They are going to get wet and dirty again and the taping is a real hassle.
Warm them up by the kerosene heaters and wrap them in towels.
I also kept my fundoshi on, only readjusting it. It’s so painful to put on, taking it off until the end is simple not an option. Time to man up at this point.

nakedman_bath
Purifying the participants before entering the shrine. The water is not heated.

Almost everyone gets some soup made nearby. Try a bowl of cheap udon! It might even be free.

Toilets:
Go to the toilet BEFORE you put on your fundoshi loin cloth!
There should be a few near the tent, but it’s best to go at the station and not drink too much. Once the fundoshi goes on, going to the toilet is almost impossible!

fundoshi
Fudoshi loin clothes are put on tight. Once on, you don’t want to take it off.

Alcohol:
It’s not allowed to drink alcohol.
People do, however.
DO NOT CARRY ALCOHOL during the event. It’s an instant way to end your participation because the event is lined with police officers.
Whatever you do, don’t get drunk! This is dangerous, not only because of the cold, but because you need to be sharp for this event — in mind, body and soul.
There is also a deep religious meaning to the event so purity is important.
A little goes a long way. Save the big drinking for after the event.

Trains:
It’s good to get there early.
There are events for the kids in the early afternoon.
Many people start arriving around 15:00~17:00.
I was getting set at around 17:30.

Make sure you check the time of your last train!
Saisaiji Station is small and trains are few, especially at night.
A taxi ride back to Okayama Station is a little pricy.

If you have any questions, send me a comment on this website or comment on the YouTube video.
Good luck and stay warm!

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Creator and Producer 「ONLY in JAPAN」
President of Weblish Media Ltd.
Reporter for NHK World "Tokyo Eye"
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