For most of the year southern Japan’s Okayama City is a tranquil midsized town that offers a typical Japanese experience tourists will not find in Tokyo or Kyoto. But for one weekend every February the city transforms into a testosterone-charged den of mayhem and festivity. Brave men from near and far congregate at the Saidaiji Kan'nonin Temple for the internationally renowned Hadaka Matsuri—more commonly known as the Naked Man Festival.
The Naked Man Festival, which dates back to the sixteenth century, features nearly 10,000 near-naked men vying for a pair of sacred sticks thrown by a priest into the Saki-charged mob. Male bonding takes on a new meaning as the loincloth-clad participants struggle to gain the sacred sticks, and the lucky winner is blessed with a year of happiness. The remaining combatants have the opportunity to earn a smattering of also-ran items, which also bestow luck upon their champion.
For decades the Naked Man Festival has been a popular tourist event, inviting travelers to strip down and shout “Wasshoi! Wasshoi!” with the unruly crowd approaching the temple. Near-freezing temperatures in the dead of night assure that only the toughest competitors can withstand the challenge. An entire day of fun precedes the Hadaka Matsuri midnight climax, when the lights are extinguished and the sacred sticks are thrown into the melee. Participants fret not if they are not among the lucky winners of the sacred talismans—every witness of this ancient and bizarre spectacle is a winner in the end.
The lunar calendar used to determine the Naked Man Festival’s timing, but today the date is fixed on the third Saturday of February due to increased tourist interest. Make sure to arrive early to experience the full day of events that lead up to the shivery, scantily-clad climax. Okayama can be reached by direct flights from several cities, including Tokyo, Okinawa, Seoul, Hong Kong, Beijing and Guam. It can also be reached by train or bus from Tokyo.
Odds n' Ends
While in Okayama, don’t miss the chance to take a stroll through the beautiful Korakuen Gardens. Tour the Okayama Castle, ominously painted black, and stop in the Oriental Museum to learn about the regions art and trade history. Gamers won’t want to miss the Sega Joyopolis arcade, while those seeking relaxation should visit the Yuba Onsen—a genuine hot spring that offers a variety of baths. Okayama is one of few cities in Japan with a tram system, so getting around town is a breeze.
Places to Stay Nearby
Search over 900,000 global hotel deals from over 30 merchants. Book via Expedia, Travelocity,
Hotels.com, Booking.com, Priceline and the websites of popular hotel chains.
Making instant ramen noodles at home isn't overly exciting, but visit the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka, Japan and making them will take on a whole different experience. Here, you get to become a part of the instant ramen noodle-making process, right from scratch. Sound interesting? Well here you are your own cook, designing your new favourite noodle and experimenting with various flavors. The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum houses a wide collection of the instant ramen sold over the ages. From the packaging materials to the types of instant ramen noodles, everything is on display. Though the ...8631 miles away.
No one knows the world like National Geographic—and in this lavish volume, we reveal our picks for the world's most fabulous journeys, along with helpful information for readers who want to try them out.
Experienced this and have something to share? Experienced something like this somewhere else? Looking for advise or travel companions? Use this space to leave your mark. Our writers and editors are more than happy to help answer your questions.
People who wish to experience
Listed below are the most recent comments made on Twitter for "naked man festival":
"Physical discomfort is important only when the mood is wrong. Then you fasten on to whatever thing is uncomfortable and call that the cause. But if the mood is right, then physical discomfort doesn't mean much."