News of a “Naked Festival” probably fills many with visions of an exotic and sexually oriented affair somewhere between a wild Playboy Mansion party and the Burning Man Festival.
But that’s not exactly what occurs at the Naked Festival – or Hadaka Matsuri – at Saidaiji Temple in Okayama prefecture, Japan. The most recent Naked Festival took place this past weekend.
About 9,000 men gathered at the site for this year’s Naked Festival, dressed in nothing but loin cloths, as their bodies formed a naked wave flooding into the temple. The goal of all the men is to capture one of the lucky talismans thrown into the Naked Festival crowd by priests from above, reports the Huffington Post.
The Naked Festival ritual began in 1510, according to the Wall Street Journal, referring to the Saidaiji Temple’s website. Those brave and mostly naked men that are able to out-maneuver their fellow Naked Festival attendees and grab one of the talismans are believed to have good luck coming their way throughout the following year.
With the Naked Festival pitting so many men against each other in a tight area, all vying for the talisman, the writhing sea of bodies is reminiscent of the pit at a punk rock concert, and injuries at the Naked Festival do occur. Though Naked Festival Injuries are generally minor, one man actually did die eight years ago, according to organizers.
So, some Naked Festival safety precautions are urged, such as removing necklaces and glasses. Naked Festival participants also generally tuck a sheet of paper in their loin cloth that lists their name, address, emergency contacts and blood type.
And if you do suffer an injury at the Naked Festival, the temple lets you know right up front that you’re a willing participant and that they aren’t responsible should you be hurt or killed during the ritual.
Are any women included in the Naked Festival? Apparently, yes.
As chronicled by Getty Images in the picture below, these Japanese women pray while wading through a freezing cold pool during Naked Festival on February 16, 2013, in Okayama, Japan. What they were specifically praying for isn’t noted, but possibly for the safety and good luck of the men?
In the end, as with most things, there are only a few lucky participants that win the Naked Festival talisman and accompanying good luck. But judging by another of the Getty images below, regardless of the outcome, a good time is had by all at the Naked Festival.
[Images by Trevor Williams and Buddhika Weerasinghe – Getty Images]