Hadaka Matsuri is a common name for the “naked festival.” Such events are held all over Japan and throughout the year. Depending on a place their concept and rules differ. Two most famous Hadaka Matsuri take place in winter in the vicinity of Nagoya and in Saidaiji Temple in the city of Okayama in western Japan.
Okayama naked festival
Naked men festival in Okayama is officially called Saidaiji Eyo and started over 500 years ago. The idea is that at midnight an amulet is dropped from one of the temple buildings and the man who manages to snatch it will have a lucky year.
Initially the festival did not have anything to do with nudity. Some old drawings show pilgrims fighting for the shingi fully dressed. It is said that when a festival got popular and competition became more fierce, clothes were simply obstructing and got torn.
- The festival ends at 22:00 not midnight – for 499 years the main event of the festival was scheduled for midnight. In 2010 it has been changed to 22:00 to let people use public communication to return to the city, it has been continued thereafter.
- Buy a ticket – there is practically no other way to watch the main event except from the stands facing the main hall of the temple, there are seats and standing places behind.
- But don’t buy a reserved seat – although probably all will be already sold out, you don’t want to be glued to your seat for the whole evening. Its February and its evening. You won’t see much and you will freeze!
- Arrive early – although main events are in the evening, groups of younger participants run on the premises of Saidai-ji Temple for the whole afternoon