Have you heard of Yunogo Onsen in Okayama? It is a famous si...
Saidaiji Naked Men Festival
Roughly 10,000 men signed up to take part in the Saidaiji Naked Men Festival this year, for its 508th celebration.
Teams of up to 20 men are formed in order to develop the best strategy to win the prize of the night, the shingi. The shingi is a sacred wooden stick that brings good fortune to those that claim it. The men who were lucky enough to find and hold onto the shingi, then escape the temple win a year of good fortune (as well as an undisclosed amount of prize money).
In brief summary, the army of naked men start running laps around Saidaiji Temple around 8pm, bathing themselves in the purifying waters of a nearby fountain, enduring the wet and cold conditions. At 9:30pm they finally gather at the podium of Saidaiji Temple and fight for a good position for the main event–the dropping of the shingi. Then at 10pm, as the crowd awaits with anticipation, the lights in the area go out and the shingi are dropped into the sea of naked men. There’s minor hysteria as camera flashes go off inside the temple, resembling the strobes of a nightclub. Then, in a matter of minutes, the event is over. The winners are unclear, but they have been decided. The crowds of naked men and audiences quickly disperse and people are able to go home by 10:30pm. Though not as climactic as one would imagine, the build-up to the main event is interesting and worth seeing.
Anyone can participate in the event, so long as they are male, can hide their tattoos, and are willing to withstand the cold and brutal event. If you are interested in applying next year, please follow the link below.
Along with the marching naked men, there are other events and entertainment at the festival. Children’s events happen from 3-5pm, Uraja dancers from 5-6pm, and fireworks from 7-7:30pm. Delicious food stalls line the river bank area to the right of Saidaiji Temple.
Saidaiji Temple is a 15 minute walk from Saidaiji Station, which is only a 20 minute train ride away from Okayama Station.