What’s that you say? Something weird and mental going on in Japan? Well I never! That’s new isn’t it? Of course not, but I’m always super chuffed when I find another mind-bendingly left-field Asian event. But I don’t want you to think for a second that I’m looking down on our Asian cousins, au contraire.
I’m of the opinion that all countries and humans are as madcap as each other. If a man from a wet and windy island that harbours haggis, morris dancers, gurning and cheese rolling can’t enjoy the wonders of other nation’s traditions, then I don’t want to be alive anymore.
Today’s welcome addition to the house of Japanese japes is the Hadaka Matsuri naked festival. There’s three things that make this festival brilliant:
1) They’re all pretty much naked
2) The prize they obtain for their crushing embarrassment is a couple of sticks
3) They have to find sticks in the pitch dark
Brilliant. A couple of sticks. It seems like a bit of an effort for a couple of sticks, no? Well, these sticks are special, they’re called shingi. See, it already sounds cooler now they’ve got an authentic and mystical sounding name doesn’t it?
Basically a priest lobs the two shingi into the sweaty and semi-sane huddle of chaps and they scrabble around like rabid truffle pigs trying to get them.
The fella that gets both sticks upright into a box is said to be blessed with happiness for a whole year. A WHOLE YEAR OF HAPPINESS! OMG!
There are similar competitions held at other temples around Japan. At Saidaiji Temple in the city of Okayama bundles of willow strips have been thrown into a crowd of barely dressed boys for almost 500 years.
Here’s a shot of the cheeky priest preparing to throw the twigs:
More great pictures overleaf…
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