Hari Kuyo at Horin-ji – an Ancient Needle Memorial Service in Kyoto
Osaka, Kyoto and Kansai
Can you imagine crazy men who are only in Fundoshi (Fundoshi is traditional Japanese underwear) who get wet in the cold water in January? This exciting scene happens every winter in Shittenoji Temple in Osaka. Japan has many festivals of this kind. And in this article, I would like to introduce “Shitennoji Doya Doya Festival” which one of the most famous naked festivals in Kansai area.
Shitennoji Doya Doya Festival takes place at Shitennoji Temple in Osaka every January, which is considered the coldest month of the year. More than 600 men participate, wearing red or white Fundoshi. You must be wondering why Japanese men like to wear Fundoshi, especially in such a cold winter? What’s the point of wearing Fundoshi? For what is this festival? Where did this name of the festival come from? I will satisfy your hunger in this knowledge further in this article.
Shitennoji Temple was built by Prince Shōtoku about 1400 years ago. It is three times larger than a normal baseball field. Even though the temple burned a few times since the 6th century, I was always carefully reconstructed. Thus, even now you can see the original design of the temple. It is designated as a National Cultural Asset and has heaps of historically, religiously important things. Before the festival starts, I suggest you spend your time having a look at Shitennoji Temple and taking a walk in its precincts. Image courtesy of 663highland
At Shitennoji Temple, from January 1st to 14th, they have a series of religious events when priests pray for peace and good harvest every year. On the last day, January 14th, you can witness the Doya Doya Festival. In one of the halls, Rokuji hall, during this festival, participants try to seize paper charms to which prayer was given. A lot of people from different generations and with different backgrounds used to come together and participate in this jostling. However, in order to avoid accidents and chaos, only students and teachers from designated schools can participate now. Surprisingly, this festival has been taking place for more than 1000 years.
The name of the festival, Doya Doya, comes from the noise that people make when they get into the Rokuji hall or even faces provoking other participants. (Also, Doya is a common word for Japanese people indicating a state when they are proud of themselves for something.)
A long time ago, people were supposed to appear as they were born, when they try to negotiate with God. This is the main reason men are still wearing Fundoshi. At Doya Doya Festival, red Fundoshi team and white Fundoshi team compete to grab paper charms in a vigorous jostling competition which is so exciting to watch.
Even though you cannot participate in the jostling competition in Fundoshi, even though some of you want, you shouldn’t miss the very first and the most exciting moment when participants enter the Rokuji hall. When hundreds of paper charms are thrown into the crowds which wear only Fundoshi, they start catching them fiercely. This is a very energetic and breathtaking scene indeed!
Moreover, the participants get splashed with water from the people around them. And at the same time, when you see the water evaporating and the steam coming from the surfaces of their bodies, you will truly feel how spectacular and mysterious this festivity is.
Besides, as there are a lot of high school students participating in Doya Doya, it is also enjoyable to see how excited they get. If you have more interest, try to find a difference between normal high school students and religious school students.
On the other hand, there is also something very adorable at this festival. Not only vigorous men but also charming kindergarten pupils join the festival (not the main one). We actually have a children version of Doya Doya. You’ll enjoy seeing small children in half short pants, boys are naked to the waist and girls wear half sleeves. It is enjoyable to see them yelling “Doya Doya” indeed. If Doya Doya festival is on Saturday, a great number of people will probably come to see, including children’s parents. I suggest you secure your space just after the children version finishes and their parents leave.
Date: January 14th every year
Place: Shittenoji Temple, Rokuji hall
Address: 1-11-18 Shitennoji, Tennoji Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture
Official Website (Japanese only): http://www.shitennoji.or.jp/event/1/
Shitennoji Temple can be reached within a short walk from Shitennoji-mae Yuhigaoka Station on the Tanimachi Subway Line. Alternatively, you can reach it within ten minutes by walk from JR Tennoji Station on the JR Loop Line.
If you are in Osaka after the New Year and are curious about ancient and somehow odd Japanese traditions, Doya Doya festival would be the perfect option to get acquainted with these traditions without leaving the city. Besides, it is a great chance to see how courageous and sociable Japanese boys are! Feel an ancient, brave Japanese spirit at this holy festival!
If you would like to see this festival with a local guide, who will tell you more about the ancient traditions of Shittenoji Temple, show you around the neighborhood, and introduce you to the local lifestyle, please click on the banner below!
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Check it here! URL:https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/4601/