Aichi, January 24: As per the South China Morning Post, a shrine in Japan made history by permitting women to take part in the 'naked man' festival for the first time in its 1650-year lifespan. The Konomiya Shrine in Inazawa, in the Aichi prefecture of Japan, is the organiser of the Hadaka Matsuri, a traditional festival. About 10,000 local males are anticipated to participate in the event, which is set for February 22 this year.

A Change in Custom

Traditionally in a "men-only" event, 40 women will be permitted to participate in some festival rites this year. But instead of the customary violent altercation between males wearing loincloths and nearly nude, they will stay fully clothed and wear traditional happi jackets, according to a report by The Independent. All they will do is transport bamboo grass wrapped in linen onto the temple grounds as part of the 'naoizasa' rite. Hinamatsuri 2022 in Japan: From Hina Dolls to Authentic Food, 7 Things To Know About Momo No Sekku or Peach Blossom Festival.

"We have not been able to hold the festival like we used to for the past three years because of the pandemic, and at the time, we received a lot of requests from women in the town to take part," stated Mitsugu Katayama, an official of the organising committee. He explained that although women were not explicitly prohibited from attending the event in the past, they did prefer to avoid it on their own volition. Women and gender activists in the area have applauded the decision, hailing it as a positive development in their fight for equality. Happy White Day 2019: Know How This Japan Festival Is Connected to Valentine’s Day.

What Takes Place in Course of Festival?

Thousands of men dress simply for the occasion, the majority of them donning a Japanese loincloth known as a "fundoshi" and white socks. Men spend the first few hours of the festival sprinting around the grounds of the temple and washing themselves with ice cold water as part of the ceremonies, and then they move towards the main temple. After that, the competitors compete to retrieve two fortunate sticks from among 100 other bundles of twigs that the temple priest tosses. They try to touch the "chosen man," or shin-otoko, since it is said to bring good luck for a year. They also shout out for him. Men frequently come out of the event bruised and injured because of the stampede-like atmosphere.


(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jan 24, 2024 12:26 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website