Japanese ‘Naked’ Festivals Keep Centuries-Old Tradition Alive


Enlarge this imageBoys ranging from six to twelve get ready their flags for the Shimadachi Hadaka Matsuri, an once-a-year pageant rooted in Shinto tradition during which the youngsters parade through town to ward off evil spirits and pay out respects on the god of overall health.Elise Hu/NPRhide captiontoggle captionElise Hu/NPRBoys ranging from 6 to 12 put together their flags for that Shimadachi Hadaka Matsuri, an annual competition rooted in Shinto custom during which the kids parade by way of town to chase away evil spirits and pay back respects towards the god of health.Elise Hu/NPRJapan is house to numerous community festivals, but many of the most effective recognised are definitely the kinds in which men run and leap all-around almost bare not for filthy factors, but for historical religious ones. Virtually ninety boys take part during the once-a-year competition. They age out when they achieve 13 many years aged.Elise Hu/NPRhide captiontoggle captionElise Bruce Smith Jersey Hu/NPRThe hadaka matsuri or “naked festival” dates back again hundreds of years in Japan. Men perform in regular fundoshi (loincloth) to purify by themselves in advance of gods, to carry luck and prosperity or to welcome new seasons. To determine one for myself, I headed in early July to Shimadachi, a village higher up within the Japanese Alps the place elementary schoolboys retain up the tradition of marching all-around town in only loincloth. Locals volunteer as cro sing guards to the parade via city in Nagano Prefecture. The boys wander about a mile in sweltering July heat.Elise Hu/NPRhide captiontoggle captionElise Hu/NPRWhile probably weird if you’ve a Western sensibility, the observe is rather program and vaunted listed here. It really is considered that just about three hundred decades back, evil spirits had sickened the townsfolk with disorder. Once the village boys paraded close to carrying loincloth, prayed to your Shinto god of health and fitne s at a tiny temple after which you can purified themselves publicly prior to the Jason Croom Jersey gods, they were being in a position to chase away disorder, driving out those evil spirits.No one would like for being the one particular to prevent a centuries-old custom, hence the hadaka matsuri proceeds. I followed together as just about ninety boys prayed two-by-two at a small Shinto temple, then shouldered giant flags mounted on bamboo and marched close to their city this fashion for practically two hours. (They did have a crack in a nearby auto repair store, to gasoline up with a few snacks). The big conclusion plus the emphasize for your participants is leaping into a previously pristine, shallow pond to the grounds on the Shinto temple. After the boys meet up with the water Josh Allen Jersey , it gets to be a lot more of the huge, muddy puddle.Elise Hu/NPRhide captiontoggle captionElise Hu/NPRBut the most fun with the youngsters arrived on the finish. Following hrs in the practically 90-degree heat, they had been ready to carry out the purification section in the ceremony by leaping together right into a shallow pond so shallow that when the boys jumped in, it absolutely was simply a big puddle of mud. It’s an outdated custom that, for the kids of Shimadachi, never receives outdated. Akane Saiki contributed to this story.