Japan’s Bare Competition, Hadaka Matsuri, canceled for all however a choose few

(CNN) – This time last year, thousands of people gathered in Japan each year for Hadaka Matsuri – also known as the “Naked Festival” – in the Okayama district south of Honshu Island.

In today’s environment of social unrest, the videos show what happened last year (see above) and are real reminders of the change since then.

Also known as Saidaiji Eyo, Hadaka Matsuri takes place on the third Saturday in October at Saidaiji Kannonin Temple, about 30 minutes from Okayama city. And this year was not the same.

But the Covid-19 epidemic has provided a shadowy picture for 2021, forcing those planning to make drastic changes.

War between 10,000 men

Hadaka Matsuri celebrates the blessings of high yields, development and fertility.

In normal times, it starts in the afternoon with an event for young boys – aimed at stimulating the interest of young people. In the evening, 10,000 men or men participate for an hour or two running around the square in preparation and cleansing with cold water, before gathering in the house.

They are not naked, as the name of the festival implies. They play with minimal clothing; often Japanese cloth called “fundoshi” and white socks are called “tabi.”

In the statue taken on February 18, 2017, worshipers await the priest to throw the sacred scepter at the annual Hadaka Matsuri at Saidaiji Temple in Okayama.

BEHROUZ MORE / AFP / AFP via Getty Photos

When the lights go out at 10 o’clock in the afternoon, the priest throws 100 bundles of twigs and 20-inch[20 cm]small sticks into the crowd from the window 4 meters above.

They are events that cannot be imagined today. The men, packed like sardines, join together to carry one bundle and / or two sticks. Everyone who does well has a great year, according to legend. (Shingi is much more desirable than loose branches, which they can take home.)

The event lasts around 30 minutes and students come out with fewer wounds, bruises and twisted areas.

Visitors often come from all over Japan and few from abroad come to participate.

But organizers confirmed to CNN Travel that this year’s Hadaka Matsuri event, which took place on February 20, was not the only one of its selected group, separated by 100 or more men who held shingles in recent years, and closed to viewers.

Instead of fighting with sticks, the men gathered at the Saidaiji Kannonin Temple to pray for fertility, an end to the plague and world peace, and to find security measures including the height of the population.

Uninterrupted for 500 years

As part of the Feast of Tabernacles, the disciples wash themselves with cold water before entering the great temple.

As part of the Feast of Tabernacles, the disciples wash themselves with cold water before entering the great temple.

Trevor Williams / Getty Images AsiaPac / Getty Images

Why not simply cancel the event?

In a statement explaining the reasons for their decision, the organizers say they will continue unabated for more than 500 years.

“In discussions with the high priest and members of the committees, we have come to the conclusion that we should pray for (Eyo) now,” said Saijaiji Eyo chairperson of Minoru Omori. Eyo means a word called “ichiyo-raifuku,” which means “to endure the cold, the cold and until the spring heat.”

“In other words, we pray for all the good after the bad things that have happened,” Omori said.

The Nude Party was transformed from a ritual that began 500 years ago during the Muromachi Period (1338-1573), when locals struggled to seize paper charms, donated by a priest at the Saidaiji Kannonin Temple.

More and more people are looking for expensive paper charms and the event has grown. But then he realized that when he went to get it, the paper was torn. Their clothes began to move again, so they eventually took off and exchanged papers, said Mieko Itano, a spokesman for the Okayama advertising board, in an interview with CNN Travel in 2020.

With their long legacy, the event was re-designated as a National Cultural Festival in 2016. It was one of the “nude” parties held in Japan, the other held in Yotsukaido in the Chiba region, where men wearing belts beat and carried children in the mud as a way to cast out demons.

Japan and Covid-19

Cases of the Daily Covid-19 have been declining in recent weeks in Japan, although Tokyo is one of the few regions with a problem with self-defense. The country has reported more than 424,000 Covid-19 cases and more than 7,000 deaths.

The plague forced the organizers of the talks to relocate to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics last year, the tournament kicks off on July 23, 2021.

Tokyo officials are now tackling the issue of how to launch a game that could be extremely complex – involving more than 11,000 athletes from more than 200 countries.

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