Monday, November 24, 2008

Hadaka Matsuri - Naked Festival

That's Kanji above in the dead centre, half naked in the freezing river. The mikoshi, or portable shrine, is in the river behind him, and at this point in the proceedings, all the participants are offering a prayer to towards the shrine before moving on again. I do have a closer photo, but it's a little too revealing! Suffice it to say, he looks quite good in a fundoshi (Japanese loin cloth). And they are, as you can see, nowhere near naked, they get to wear a shirt as well, though that probably makes them even colder, as they get that shirt wet but are only up to their waist in the water most of the time.

The festival is 1200 years old, but this river crossing is 'only' 900 years old. Story goes that for some reason they were unable to get the mikoshi across the bridge, so they had to take it through the river. On Friday they take it to the shrine across the river, on Sunday they take it back home.

Left, the massive taiko drum, and on the right, the biggest straw torch in the world - it's set up in the actual river, and is lit with a flaming arrow.

Above left, the group entering the river with the mikoshi. On the right, a better view of the mikoshi itself. Kanjj's wearing a white headband, after that, you're on your own, your guess as good as mine. I was lucky to find him at all for the picture at top, while I was snapping that, I was trying to point him out to Lena and a friend, neither of whom could pick him out!

Amy decided not to come. She was comfortably ensconced under the kotatsu (heated table) at Baachan's coloring a picture. I think she regretted that decision later on. Here are Lena and Erica mesmerized by one of the bonfires.

Kanji finished and exhilarated! We were lucky to meet up with a friend who took a photo of us, crowded at the river's edge waiting for them to come up out of the water.

Erica dancing to the taiko drum:

Entering the water:

The taiko drum and massive torch - sorry for the sideways angle, I'm not sure how to realign movies off my camera - if anyone knows, please teach me!


thefukases said...

Wow. What a great night. They do pick the best season to go in the river though, hey?

Does your husband participate every year or is it age based? They are having to relax the rules on the age based festival here s we just don't have enough men!!

Rachel said...

Well, there'd be no challenge if they did it in summer, in fact the rest of the village would probably be in there with them, which would kind of ruin the whole manly brave look thing.

This is the second year he's done it, and the last - it's up to age 40. There seems to be a fairly large team, and plenty of younger ones, so I don't think they need to adjust their age limits yet.