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There are so many festivals in Japan. Even though they are prestigious and traditional, they often seem weird and odd to foreigners. We have what we call “Three Most Weird Festivals” in Japan. Each of them has its own background. One of them is Saidaiji Eyo Festival, that takes place in Okayama city.
Saidaiji Eyo is a “Hadaka Matsuri” or Naked Festival and it is designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Asset. It is also one of three biggest naked festivals in Japan.
You you will see something very spectacular when about ten thousand men in Fundoshi (Japanese traditional underwear) are striving for a pair of wood. Shingi (fortune wood) helps the men to become Fukuotoko (fortune man). In this article, I am going to share with you the information of Saidaiji Eyo 2018, including how to participate in this event and its attractive points.
Saidaiji Eyo is an one-day festival. However, more than two weeks before the festival, locals conduct preparation events. These include a starting ceremony, picking up Shingi, Mizugori – a ceremony where you bathe in water in order to clean your body and mind before praying, and Shushoue where you pray for peace and good harvest, looking back at your bad habits the year before. On the last day of Shushoue, Takaragi is dropped in.
Moreover, after Saidaiji Eyo finishes, the post Eyo festival is going on for two weeks. On its last day, March 4th, Kitsugan Sai an ending festival to pray for fortune takes place. This event is very enjoyable for everyone: adults and children. During the festival there are some street food restaurants as well. So, you will have a great chance to try some local foods.
Saigyoji Eyo is a festival where naked men strive for a pair of Takaragi. It is dropped from a fortune window of Saidaiji Kannonin. The one who takes it out of Niomon (gate) becomes Fukuotoko.
Anybody who is older than 12, excluding elementary school students, can join of the festival for free. However, women cannot join Takaragi dropping. They join Mizugori and pray for men’s naked festival. Men must be excited at Takaragi striving competition. On the other hand, women must be shivering for cold.
Besides, if you get drunk, have tattoos or wear glasses you cannot join the dropping. Registration is available on Internet even on the event day.
Men in Fundoshi start to come together at around 8 pm. However, they cannot join Takaragi race soon. They have to go through several ceremonies to clean their bodies first.
First, at Mizutori place, men bathe in water to get rid of bad fortune of the previous year.
At the main hall they receive benefit from Senju Cannon (one thousand hands Cannon).
Then, they visit Goujo Daigongen (five statues of combined figure of god and buddha) and go under four pillars.
Finally, men visit main hall again, go the same route and wait for Takaragi Dropping.
When the time comes, all the lights are switched off and Takaragi is dropped in the complete dark. Takaragi has an incense smell and participants are trying to find where it is by its smell.
The extreme crowd is shouting: “Washo! Washo!” for about 30 minutes. Then the announcement of “This year’s Fukuotoko has been determined!” is made and the festival finishes.
It is all right if you join yourself but many people join as a group. If one of the members grabs Takaragi, they start going toward the gate together in cooperation. They know that the more people they have in the group, the more chances they have to succeed. Therefore, they spend more time going under someone’s legs or passing Takaragi from one person to another.
Naked festivals provide you with a unique opportunity to get acquainted with Japan and its traditions. Hadaka matsuris are probably one of the most energetic, colorful and weird events among all Japanese festivals. You must guess that this festival is one of many nude festivals in Japan. As naked festivals are an important traditional and cultural feature in Japan, almost every area and prefecture can boast their own unique hadaka matsuri. If you are curious about strange and nude festivals around Japan, the following article picked 10 best festivals for you to visit!
Japan is a country of festivals indeed. Matsuri is an essential part of traditional Japanese culture. Thus, every day somewhere in Japan a festival takes place. There are traditional and modern festivals, on the sea and on the ground, in summer and winter. Japanese are hardworking people. However, when you attend at least one festival in Japan, you will understand how locals like to party. The article under the link below will introduce you to a celebration on any day of the year. I am sure you will find an event that suits your interests utmost!
A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!
Image courtesy of Tomomarusan
The food presented during Matsuri is pretty different from the one you get at the restaurants in Japan. Besides, there is a certain charm in grabbing some snack from a food stall and diving back into the festival crowd. I am sure that you will discover something new about Japanese festival food from the following article!