Winter

Warabi Hadaka Matsuri – a Massive Muddy Naked Men Festival in Chiba

Erica.I

Writer

Warabi Hadaka Matsuri is one of those weird messy Japanese festivals that you cannot miss to receive a full impression about the country of the rising sun. Have you ever had the urge to run around the cold and muddy road nearly naked? Or do you have the urge to watch grown men carry babies with nothing but a thong? Okay, if you answer yes to either of those questions, fist, you have a very peculiar urge my friend (but no judging!), and second, you might be in luck! There is a festival where you can watch naked men in cold weather carrying babies!

The Hadaka Matsuri

The festival in question is a traditional festival of Warabi Mimusubi shrine in the little city of Yotsukaido in Chiba prefecture to the east of Tokyo. Locals call it Warabi Hadaka Matsuri, or the “Naked Festival”. (and sometimes the “Muddy Festival”. You’ll find out why). The shrine holds this festival to bring the rich harvest and protection against the evil spirits, and especially protection of the Gods to the newborns of the city. Since it takes place annually on February 25th during the coldest time of the year, sometimes people must break the ice with staffs before the festival starts!

The festival itself goes like this: first, the priests and parents of the newborn babies attend the ceremony in the shrine (unfortunately, general visitors are not permitted to attend these ceremonies). And in the afternoon, the real festivities begin! Mostly naked men clad just in loincloths (fundoshi) come down the hill from the Mimusubi shrine to the small rice paddy, each carrying a young baby. Many of these young babies wear the elaborate kimonos just for the occasion. And the men carrying them will paint the mud onto the baby’s forehead for cheek with a piece of straw, as a blessing. (When you think about all those pretty kimonos soiled in the mud… oh well.)

Muddy Paddy and the Mud Fight

But that is not the only event in this festival. There is also a mock cavalry battle. (Some of my non-Japanese friends call it a “group piggyback”. Four people as one team, three of which will be the “horse” and one person have to ride on top. In my experience, if you’re a horse, your arms hurt, and if you’re a rider, better hope you’re not afraid of heights because it can get really rough fighting in these “battles”. And it really hurts when you fall from the horse!). Then, there’s mud fight (imagine snowball fight but with muds). Hence, the name Doronko Matsuri, or the “Muddy Festival”.

Aren’t they cold? You ask. Yes, they are. That’s why all these men huddle together around a big bonfire in the shrine to try and warm back up after each round. And then, a few minutes later, they run back down again for another match. Oh, but you won’t be just standing there watching these men mud-fight for too long. These men will come out of the muddy field and come after the spectators, trying to smear (and sometimes throw and pour) muds at you!

Finally, the shrine’s representative gets tossed in the air by these men, and the festival comes to an end. By the time they’re all finished with the festival, participants will be all covered in mud from head to toe!

Details and Access

Date: February 25th annually
Time: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Place: Warabigaoka Park next to the Mimusubi Shrine
Address: 692 Warabi, Yotsukaido, Chiba
Official website (Japanese only): https://www.city.yotsukaido.chiba.jp/miryoku/smile/kanko/matsuri_geinou/ysangyowarabihadaka.html
Fee: none
Access:
An hour train ride on JR Sobu Honsen Line (bound for Narita) from Tokyo station. Get off at Yotsukaido Station. 15 min. walk from the south exit.
There will be no parking lot nearby, but there will be a public toilet. Make sure to wear something warm and something you can get dirty.

Closing Remarks

There are many interesting and mysterious traditions in Japan, and this Hadaka Matsuri is one of them. But what most of these festivals have in common is the people’s wishes for the good lucks. I hope you can feel that while attending these festivals. (and yes, that includes getting muddy all over your face.)

If you’re a little nervous about coming to Japan for the first time, do not fret! Just go to the Huber website and start looking for a local guide and a future friend!

All images are courtesy of Roberto Maxwell

Would You Like to Know More Naked Festivals in Japan?

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. Thus, 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 unique hadaka matsuri. If you are curious about strange and nude festivals around Japan, the following article picked ten best festivals for you to visit!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/4281/ 

Discover Chiba Prefecture!

Chiba Prefecture is a great place to visit and can boast plenty of tourist attractions. Besides, it is very close to Tokyo, and you can easily visit it within a day. However, would you like to see rural Japan? Chiba Prefecture gives you a unique opportunity to visit a land of hot springs and admire authentic traditional Japan. The following article assembled the best festivals and activities to enjoy in Chiba Prefecture, which will make your trip to Japan even more rewarding!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/best-festivals-things-chiba-prefecture

An Ultimate Idea Source for Your Tokyo Stay!

Most of the travelers who come to Japan enter the country through Tokyo. Even if it is not the main place of your destination, it would be a great idea to stay in the capital city for a few days. The biggest conglomerate in the world has much to offer to any kind of traveler. Whether you want to go sightseeing, shopping, eating out, or trying something special that you can experience only in Japan, Tokyo has it all. In the following article, you will find 100 things and many ideas on how to spend your time in Tokyo! Please, have a look!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/7726/ 

Would You Like to Know How to Enjoy a Japanese Festival Even More?

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!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5363/

Erica.I

Things I can't live without: Roaming inside a bookstore, cats/dogs, tea, comfy chairs, British period drama... and more books!

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