Saidai-ji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri- A Festival of Competition


After you get on the JR Ako Line at the Okayama Station, a few minutes train will lead your way to the Saidaiji Station. And from Saidaiji Station it would only costs you ten minutes to get to the festival. But before you get started, make sure it is the exact time the third Saturday of February, and the exact place- Saidai-ji Temple, at Okayama Prefecture. You would never miss it.

This festival is a festival of fight. A large group of almost fully-naked men are making their fully efforts to grab the wooden sticks which they believe can bring them good luck charms for the following year. This festival enjoys a history of five hundred years. At that time, the priests will toss away the paper talismans called Go-o in the air which is believed by people that it can bring the good luck to the people. So all the people took part in the competition will use their full strength to fetch that paper. Because the paper is easy to be torn, so nowadays we change it in to the wooden sticks which is called ofuda. In this way, it becomes the most exciting but also eccentric festival of the year. Today 9,000 men will take part in this game with their body nearly naked. The only thing they wear is the loincloths. They are using their life to catch the stick which is four centimeters in diameter and twenty centimeters high. The priest will stand at a floor which is four meters above the ground, and throw the stick to the crowd. The man who gets the stick is the lucky man of the year. There are also willow strips tossing away by the priest. Sometimes you may think it is easy to catch bundles of strips. But just imagine this as a British rugby game- even you get it in your hand at this second, you will be grabbed by others in the crowds. Also this festival happens at the cold season of the year, the people participate in it will get on their fever when the priest throw the good luck stuff away. If you want to join all these thrills and excitement, you should book a seat before the event starts.

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