Saturday, February 18, 2006

Let's enjoying nakedness!

Awhile back I got an email from Princess Hyogo Miako,

"Ever fancied fighting, naked, in mid- winter, for a couple of sacred sticks? If not, ever fancied watching other men fighting naked in mid-winter for a couple of sacred sticks?"

Sign me up!

So I headed to Okayama this weekend to see the famous Hadaka Matsuri (Naked Festival) Saidaiji Eyo. There was quite a big representation from Hyogo with about 16 guys participating and a whole lot of us girls watching.

I took at shinkaisoku (super rapid train) to Himeji station then jumped onto a shinkansen (bullet train) to Okayama. It isn't really that far but I didn't feel like spending 2 hours on the train and missing the scheduled buses.

Checked into the ryokan (thanks so much for organising Miako!) then went to that curry place (Coco's ichiban?) with Miako, Zack , Danny and the Brit boys from Osaka.

After the compulsory conbini booze and snackage stop, we headed to the station to meet up with the Okayama JET organisers and other gaijin participants. Then it was a fun bus ride to Saidaiji Temple.

Me & Jen

The boys (runners) being given handy tips from our party-helmet wearing guide

Perhaps I've been in Japan too long but Miako actually had to point this out to me

Let the nakedness begin...

These sumo-nappies are called Fundoshi

They are usually white, although the black ones are apparently worn by yakuza

Me & Jen with goofy grins

Poster of the event at a conbini

In Saidaiji Temple

I love taiko & these chicks rocked

Me & Miako

Food stalls serving up delicious yatai

Our tickets were in the standing area which was quite far back. Nonetheless we were able to get some good shots and spot the gaijin with their hairy chests.

Here's some info about the festival;

and this is the footage we saw beforehand from Pippa's email;

(scroll all the way to the bottom and click on where you see MPEG 2MB)

So yeah, basically all these dudes have to run around the temple grounds 3 times and run into this freezing pond to purify themselves then get up onto the temple platform and wait till midnight when the lights go out and the priests drop the sacred sticks. Apparently a few a dropped but only 2 are the real ones. It is crowded and hot and insanely dangerous. People are pushed and shoved and they spill off the platform down steps and fall onto the crowds below. You can actually see the steam rising from the guys on the platform!

If you do get one of the sticks, you then have to bring it to the priests. But this is no easy feat as others will jump on you and rip it out of your hands. That's why many people work in teams and have coloured tape wrapped around their wrists. Apparently these sticks, which promise a year of wealth, fortune, good luck, what-have-you, are quite valuable and some companies will pay big bucks for them. We also saw many company teams enter the temple grounds holding company banners and flags.

It was complete and utter mayhem. Yet just like a car accident, you couldn't move your eyes away. We saw fights break out, the police (complete with white gloves and flashing sticks) move in to carry out collapsed participants and take out the fighting drunks, guys jumping on top of one another for the sticks and ofcourse I'm sure everyone saw beloved Zack dancing and gyrating to the crowd in all his glory - we think he needed a bigger fundoshi! hahaha Sweetie, you are quality! I'll send you the footage I got.

This poor English chap was showing us his scratched up knee and telling us how one of his tabi (ninja sock) was pulled off

Pippa & some dude

Check out that dimple!

And you can't see his face so I ain't talking about the one on his face!

After enough flesh (to last me until say, March?) we got back onto our buses and headed to some sports bar in Okayama city. It was full of gaijin full of tales of near death-"Why am I doing this?"-experiences, fist fights, fundoshi wedgies and recounts of the unbelievable sea of hot, sweaty, swaying men.

Wanting to get our dance on, a few of us headed to a nearby place called Desperado, which had good music but closed at 3am. Since we arrived at about 2.55am, we didn't stay long. (Isn't my maths ability freakin' aweseome! haha) We went back to that sports bar (the name eludes me) then finally headed back to the ryokan for some much needed sleep.

Approxiamately 3 minutes of dancing at Desperado

Back at the sports bar


At 10:10 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't there just too much bum in this post? ROFL!


At 10:59 am, Anonymous Penny said...

hiyah, loove your adventures in Japan! I certainly hope to visit one day. :) Is that Danny beside you? He's CUTE!

At 9:28 am, Blogger Christine said...

Nami - There can never be too much bum haha but I know what you mean, after awhile we were just over the whole nakedness part. Thanks for dropping by!

penny - Thanks! You should definitely visit Japan. Yeah, I'm sitting next to Danny in the last photo. He's also sings and plays guitar in a band - now that's worth 10 bonus points right? haha

At 4:39 pm, Anonymous Nami said...

Thanks to your blog, I was educated on the japanese word for the loin cloth. There's a play titled "The Magic Fundoshi" which I'm gonna watch!

*salivates over potential ass*


At 10:59 am, Blogger Christine said...

Nami - "The magic fundoshi"?!? hahaha that is classic! Please give me a review about it after you watch it. If it ain't a complete butt-fest, then it ain't magic. hehe


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