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Shinto shrine naked festival ritual asks men to cover up for first time in three-century history

27 Comments
By TOKYO

Ever year, Owase Shrine, in the town of Owase, Mie Prefecture, holds its Yaya Matsuri, or Yaya Festival. As with many Shinto festivals, part the proceedings include prayers to the gods asking for abundant harvests for farmers and bounteous catches for fisherman, ensuring the health and prosperity of the community in the year to come.

Part of this request to the divine powers involves a purification ritual called korikaki, in which male festival participants plunge into the waters of the ocean and nearby rivers after nightfall. A startling side note, though, is that these nighttime dips don’t take place during Japan’s sweltering summer, but at the start of February, when overnight temperatures can dip down close to freezing. What’s also startling, for those unfamiliar with the Yaya Festival, is that the men jumping into those chilly waters are completely naked.

Still, for nearly 300 years, Owase has been able to find men willing to strip down and jump in.

▼ Video of the Yaya Matsuri koriaki, with censor mosaics in place

As of this year, though, that tradition is ending.

Last year, the Owase Shrine Parishioners Association was cautioned by the Mie Prefectural Police about the potential online diffusion of photos from the event showing naked participants, which could then lead to legal/criminal complications. After discussing the situation, the parishioners association has come to the decision to require korikaki participants to wear shorts, swimsuits, loincloths, or other articles of clothing which will conceal their manly bits before jumping into the water. This policy will remain in place going forward.

“In order to preserve our traditions, we want to make what revisions that we can,” says Atsushi Naka, head of the parishioners association. “We hope that the people of the community in which the festival takes place will understand.

As evidenced by the above video, the naked portion of the Yaya Matsuri isn’t a secret. There’s officially sanctioned media coverage, and private photography/filming doesn’t appear to be banned either. The concern raised by the Mie Prefectural Police, though, involves photos from the festival being posted on social media platforms, where regulations regarding censoring and privacy clearances may not be as strictly enforced.

It’s worth noting that the decision to require clothing doesn’t appear to be something that local residents are clamoring for, presumably because the surrounding community has had three centuries to get used to the annual mid-winter skinny dips. Ostensibly, the Yaya Festival may have been able to continue with the naked korikaki by banning photography/filming during that portion of the festivities, though that may have negatively impacted the visibility of the event as a whole and reduced its ability to attract visitors and contribute to a sense of local pride.

This year’s Yaya Matsuri is scheduled for February 1-5, though we’ll likely have to wait a few more months to see if the lack of nudity is still able to convince the gods to grant their blessings to Owase’s fields and fishing spots.

Source: Livedoor News/Kyodo via Jin, NHK News Web

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© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

27 Comments
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Seems double standard which give leniency toward male just doesn't work in Mie prefecture. In the past there is an artist that involved with the law because she made kayak from her genitalia scan, while at the same time a shrine can bring big phallus during annual festival without any law implications.

https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2014/12/80027/megumi-igarashi-vagina-obscenity

-12 ( +7 / -19 )

So much for tradition. Maintaining stupid laws is more important.

8 ( +16 / -8 )

Going woke instead of keeping a tradition. Pathetic.

13 ( +23 / -10 )

Personally, if someone makes the decision to go naked in public, they have to automatically understand that there will probably be pictures or videos circulating of them on the internet.

One way around that might be to hire porn stars to do it since they don't have issues getting naked anyway.

Seems double standard which give leniency toward male just doesn't work in Mie prefecture. In the past there is an artist that involved with the law because she made kayak from her genitalia scan, while at the same time a shrine can bring big phallus during annual festival without any law implications.

It absolutely is a double standard, but welcome to Japan, right?

-15 ( +4 / -19 )

Nothing sexy or alluring about Japanese men jumping naked into cold river...issue of "shrinkage " may have impacted the decision to ban

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

Personally, if someone makes the decision to go naked in public, they have to automatically understand that there will probably be pictures or videos circulating of them on the internet.

From the article it doesn't appear that anyone participating hadaka has made any complaints, and if I were participating in a public ceremony like this I wouldn't expect any rights to privacy either. Sounds like, if the article is correct, the Mie Prefectural Police is making an issue where the Police have no standing (unless some of the police are participating and are afraid of photos of themselves circulating after the fact). After all, participation is voluntary. Yaya is now banning the display of yaya? Now it should be called the Nana festival.

This year’s Yaya Matsuri is scheduled for February 1-5, though we’ll likely have to wait a few more months to see if the lack of nudity is still able to convince the gods to grant their blessings to Owase’s fields and fishing spots. The parishioners association has come to the decision to require korikaki participants to wear shorts, swimsuits, loincloths, or other articles of clothing which will conceal their manly bits before jumping into the water. This policy will remain in place going forward.

We’ll likely have to wait a few more days to see if the participants decide to don the new clothing requirements, or go on with the traditions as they have been held for three hundred years. It is not hard for a loincloth to fall off during the jumping into the water.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

LOL

Yeah, purify yourself in a nice pair of Tommy Hilfiger swimwear. Only $200. and can be purchased at the Shrine entrance.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

This country is going to the dogs.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

Changing a 300 year old tradition because some puritans are shocked by seeing a naked man, wahou! What a strange world.

I would have said NO the outside opinion and keep doing the traditional way.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

"...their manly bits."

That's a new one for me. I googled it and got very few references to it meaning genitals. The expression seems to be more widely understood in Australia.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

They should wear socks like the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

From the article it doesn't appear that anyone participating hadaka has made any complaints, and if I were participating in a public ceremony like this I wouldn't expect any rights to privacy either. Sounds like, if the article is correct, the Mie Prefectural Police is making an issue where the Police have no standing (unless some of the police are participating and are afraid of photos of themselves circulating after the fact). After all, participation is voluntary. Yaya is now banning the display of yaya? Now it should be called the Nana festival.

Agree.

Nothing sexy or alluring about Japanese men jumping naked into cold river...issue of "shrinkage " may have impacted the decision to ban

Guru- that's exactly what I was thinking.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Get yer ya-ya's out! Rolling Stones live comes to mind.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Terrible decision.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

the divine powers involves a purification ritual called korikaki,

Me participating in a self-flagellating cultural event in my home of Japan? No way pedro. I will keep my self warm in front of the fire whilst eating Lancashire hotpot like I used to do back in Britain before I left there to live here.

issue of "shrinkage "

The dreaded walnut whip and corduroy sack. Used to get that when I jumped into the North Sea as a dare with my chums.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Surely they can't punish you for keeping strictly to the old custom? Your choice, right?

0 ( +5 / -5 )

What a stupid outcome. Should simply allow people to decide for themselves - to be honest it's not that interesting to watch the video, but I'd totally do it fully nacked myself. It's only skin and we're not that different.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Let’s ask the dolphins their opinion

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

In related news:

Japan allows women to participate in ’naked man’ festival for first time in its 1,250-year history

Local women in Inazawa are to join the annual Hadaka Matsuri, or Naked Man festival, held in February at the Konomiya shrine

https://www.independent.co.uk/asia/japan/japan-naked-man-festival-konomiya-shrine-b2483085.html

2 ( +4 / -2 )

We come into existence naked, every single one of us. Yet there are those who influence everyone else to conduct themselves as THEY want. There is nothing more natural than any creature being as god/nature intended. Only mankind wears clothes, and if a big deal was not made of nakedness, then nobody would notice the daily nakedness around them, reducing the sexualization of women and freeing people to dress for the weather and location and enjoy life that little bit more.

Those who term nakedness dirty perhaps think their perspective is better or more important than gods.

In other words this tradition should be allowed to continue as it has for 300 years. It is no more offensive today than it was 300 years ago. The only difference being, the people from back then seem to have been much more enlightened. Plus onsen's were in much more widespread use, so seeing others naked happened so often that this ritual would not have raised an eyebrow. Progress seems to also contain an element of going backwards as well as forwards.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

What a stupid outcome. Should simply allow people to decide for themselves

What makes you think people will not? for those that consider the nudity an essential part of the ritual there is no obligation to participate, so they can choose to simply abstain. If the festival is held without problems that means the public and participants are fine with the lack of nudity. And if everybody involved thinks it is such a necessity then this year the festival will be a failure and a clear message to the organizers.

In comparison the opinion of people that will not attend nor participate either way is not really a factor.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

2" or 6" What's the difference?It's only 4" !

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Only mankind wears clothes, 

Most animals have fur coats.

I have no problems with nakedness.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

On a positive note, this is leaving the door open for other folks who identify as men but who may not be genetically down there. Everyone can wear the loin cloth or coverings and we wouldn’t be the wiser. Surely this a step in the right direction for the 21st century.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Now Japan is going woke? When will all this end. Wokeness will be the end of all cultures, just wait..

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

This is a long, ages old ritual. If people who are prudish about it: Don't look. If it ends up on the Web: Don't look. Besides, it takes place at night, so even if you do look, it would be pretty hard to see much. Japan's traditions, rituals, and its culture do not have to abide by Western standards, and it shouldn't This has nothing to do about going woke. Why do even tough guys tremble in their boots about woke? That, too, is a Western point of view.

Don't like something about Japan's culture? Don't participate. Ta da!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

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