Japan Today
national

Japan's 'naked men' festival succumbs to aging population

55 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© 2024 AFP

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.


55 Comments
Login to comment

Japan needs to expand these kinds of ceremonies, and not cancel them, to keep cultural traditions alive, as well as to increase the virility of the male population to counter the declining birth rate.

10 ( +24 / -14 )

It's scrotally unacceptable that this festival and modern times have been groin apart.

-11 ( +17 / -28 )

Salacious headline. If the men were “naked,” they wouldn’t be wearing white loincloths.

23 ( +29 / -6 )

As population is aging, at some point it will be naked ojisan festival, that must be attractive festival which attract another BBC footage.

-8 ( +8 / -16 )

Japan needs to expand these kinds of ceremonies, and not cancel them, to keep cultural traditions alive, as well as to increase the virility of the male population to counter the declining birth rate.

You are going to have to take that up with the monks, and convince them that they can continue staging the event. Do you have any usuggestions for how they can do it? Busloads of gaijin men to take part next year?

7 ( +13 / -6 )

They often don’t welcome foreigners nor provide local foreign residents information. It’s nearly impossible to join the club and are excluded with planning or anything to do with it. These really aren’t religious events but community ones and the real side of Japan on not including foreigners in things is dramatically highlighted here.

-4 ( +16 / -20 )

Get ready for more news like this. Japan is going to change rapidly and there’s not a masterplan. Those of us who live here and have families will have an outsized effect on the future.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

It's scrotally unacceptable that this festival and modern times have been groin apart.

good one!

-4 ( +13 / -17 )

Oyaji Gag seems totally appropriate for this thread.

-1 ( +10 / -11 )

Another ancient tradition that has outlived any usefulness. Good riddance.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

You are going to have to take that up with the monks, and convince them that they can continue staging the event. Do you have any usuggestions for how they can do it? Busloads of gaijin men to take part next year?

Whats the problem with 'gaijin' taking part? Many traditions from all across the world are kept alive by non-natives. The bottom line is that local people just arent as interested anymore, so if there is a group of people who are willing to keep something alive, then they should be given full support. Unless you think there is something uniquely Japanese about marching around in a loincloth.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

I wonder if Kokuseki Temple has accident insurance? If a tragedy occurred (such as the Itaewon Halloween crowd crush incident) then it could face pressure to cancel...

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Whats the problem with 'gaijin' taking part? Many traditions from all across the world are kept alive by non-natives. 

I don't disagree.

But it is the monks that organize and run this - and many festivals in Japan. I guess they are the ones who make these decisions. Foreigners could help revive these dying customs and festivals. Perhaps some of the record tourism in Japan could be funnelled to things like this?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

But it is the monks that organize and run this - and many festivals in Japan. I guess they are the ones who make these decisions. Foreigners could help revive these dying customs and festivals. Perhaps some of the record tourism in Japan could be funnelled to things like this?

I guess it will be harder for them to accept it, but maybe they need to do exactly that, funnel tourists in to these festivals, it would be a really good way to get tourists to spend more time and money in the less popular areas.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I'm sure aging played a big part in this, but my guess is that it was more a liability issue - that perhaps the insurance on the event had become too high, or people were too worried about injury. Japan certainly isn't litigious on the scale of the US, but there's been an increase in lawsuits after accidents and they may not have wanted to risk it.

Foreign men or, god forbid, women taking part could help a lot of these events go on. Along the coast in Iwate, traditional dance groups are now teaching girls as well as boys - it's the only way to keep going. Why not? One hamlet in Oga has invited men from outside the area to take part for the last several years, though they still insist no women can do so. We'll see.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Seems that the "organizers" can't be bothered or don't want to hand over to the next generation. The event has no shortage of participants.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

They often don’t welcome foreigners nor provide local foreign residents information. It’s nearly impossible to join the club and are excluded with planning or anything to do with it. These really aren’t religious events but community ones and the real side of Japan on not including foreigners in things is dramatically highlighted here.

I live in Oshu (have for the past 30 years) and have visited Kokusekiji many times, though I have never participated in the Somin-sai. I know several foreigners who have participated. Daigo is a personal friend of mine, and he worked for many years with the Oshu International Relations Association. I can't speak for other temples or events, but foreigners are very welcome here in Oshu, at Kokusekiji, and at this festival, and it has a lot to do with Daigo's influence. I'm sure it was a very hard decision to end this festival.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I guess the expense had something to do with it. Usually, it does.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Cultural tradition that is 1000 years old should be maintained although on a lesser scale due to Japanese aging population.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The ceremony itself if fine,but after participating in countless such events myself over the years, it's the tedious meetings and rehearsals that put most working people off.

And the obligatory sake drinking.Ugh.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Foreign men or, god forbid, women taking part could help a lot of these events go on.

A naked woman festival? I'm confident this would draw crowds.

Why not make a new festival and then do what you like with it? There are so many people complaining that you'd think it would be a snap!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Foreign men or, god forbid, women taking part could help a lot of these events go on

I think if women started participating in this festival, it would fast rise to become the most popular cultural event in Japan.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Sadly, this particular naked man has certainly succumbed to aging.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Japanese immigrants adapted very well in Brazil, some local Indian tribes consider than relatives! This type of naked manifestation has something to do with ancient old times, tribal times, ancestry genes, old roots, true Japanese DNA!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

How sad that Japan with a declining population, a birth rate that continues to drop, traditions ending and more, it sounds like Japan is winding down and closing down as a nation and branch of humanity.

What is it that makes third world nations have such high population growth? It is not just being poor that does it, as plenty of Japanese are struggling to pay bills. Could it have something to do with poverty and unemployment that brings families closer together, have more time together facing the same daily struggles and doing so together?

Japan must do a study into what element makes third world nations so different that they have many more children per couple, and many more children out of wedlock, because Japan desperately needs some of that "undefined" THING to get its population growth back into being positive, without actually becoming a nation of poverty stricken people living destitute lives but having large families. Failure to address the decline will see Japan falling through the ranks of highest GDP nations until they rank under 50th and with a population many millions less than they have right now.

This tradition that has now had its final hurrah, will not be the last. This problem will not have a quick fix, no cash injection or incentive will arrest the population decline, it is more fundamental than that. Throwing open the doors for immigration is one way to help but it does not increase the birthrate unless those immigrating come from high birthrate nations, and plan on continuing in that vein once in Japan. But what of Japanese ancestry? It will thin out over time, but new blood brings new ideas and within a generation or two, those born and raised in Japan and seeing themselves as Japanese of foreign ancestry, the population may stabilize.

So immigration or crack the undefined thing that gives third world nations high natural population growth and adopt it in Japan in a way that does not detract from being a first world nation with some leading technology and research, along with continuing high GDP.

Japan, you have some work to do. Or keep declining and slipping down the GDP ladder. A slow death of a great nation and people. Sad like losing traditions that are in Japan and nowhere else, only more so, and potentially permanent.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

The penis festival is another good one I hear, and "no" this is no joke they have a penis festival and that one has become more important.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

If you are unfamiliar with Hadaka Matsuri ("Naked Festival"), here is the Japan's most famous and biggest one (in Okayama), broadcasted yesterday.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poJC_YrAVJc

2 ( +3 / -1 )

As a resident of somewhere else in inaka, I can say that many places would love to have a festival with lots of non-local participants and "thousands" of visitors. It would be used to justify all kinds of spending, and the town would get "kuni" (the national government) to pay for it because "look at that economic benefit". Many towns have large fireworks displays in summer for the same purpose and justification.

Since they have this seemingly successful event already but are shutting it down, additionally ending a centuries-old tradition which would normally be protected, I suppose we can assume that one-off event-based tourism must not be all that it is cracked up to be. Economic benefit is the usual reason given to justify very expensive events, the next being the Osaka Expo.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Cultural traditions are man-made, so they can also be man-changed as cultures evolve. I am not saying evolving always means an improvement. It would be fine with me watching a documentary film of this and other disappearing cultural events, except for those where humans and/or other animals are harmed in some way.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan's 'naked men' festival

Typical Japan, very sexist.

Where is the "naked women's" festival?

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

Where is the "naked women's" festival?

Japan does not have enough police for that, lol

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Where is the "naked women's" festival?

Japan does not have enough police for that, lol

True, the actual Japanese cops are too busy raping and committing crimes these days.

But I'm sure they would have no trouble finding volunteers for the event.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

good culture to be kept!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

There's still the "Big P" fest.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Outdated and irrelevant nonsense that has no place in modern society.The monks are scammers and religion like this primitive festival is something tat should be left in the past.

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

something tat should be left in the past.

For human beings, the past is special. We think of the past as defining almost all aspects of our lives: where we belong, who our friends are, what our social status is, what kind of person we are. We also love to talk about the past.

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1745691619879167

5 ( +6 / -1 )

falseflagsteve

Outdated and irrelevant nonsense that has no place in modern society.The monks are scammers and religion like this primitive festival is something tat should be left in the past.

1000-year Japanese Festival. Foreigners have no say in the matter.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Times change, culture changes, nothing new here. While the ancient past is important, most view the present and future thru a far more practical 'daily life' prism.

It's same everywhere, global connected world is clearly not very interested in old-disconnected culture. That's democracy in action, people expressing their interests thru their actions or lack thereof, let's respect their will!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

There isn't a shortage of young people, there is an oversupply of old men that would rather see things die than passed on, just look at the Japanese government for example.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

1000-year Japanese Festival. Foreigners have no say in the matter.

True. And that goes for the foreigners on here banging on that Japan "needs to keep this festival going" or that "it must be maintained".

What will be will be - it seems the locals in Oshu, Iwate have decided to let this festival go. Their call.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The festival should evolve. Roll the village old bloke down a snowy slope into the river. If he laughs, there will be a good harvest. If he is a foreigner or not who cares.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

There should be men, there should be women Otherwise, it's better to cancel.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japan does not have enough police for that, lol

Im sure police from far and wide would be volunteering for duty at such a festival, lol

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Is this another "Only in Japan" type of thing? Thank goodness. Won't be missed by anyone I know.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

"Japan is facing a falling birthrate, aging population, and lack of young people to continue various things," Nishimura said. "Perhaps it is difficult to continue the same way as in the past."

It does defeat the object and purpose if nurse has to be on stand by to help get naked.

Maybe efforts to stem Japan depopulation crisis, needs its own dedicated festival.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There may be an unwillingness here to hand this over to outsiders or get more outsiders involved. It's fair to speculate on that. Some inaka communities are closed.

Them stopping it though means it can't be worth their while in its current form. This is only stopping after what will be massive inertia to keep it going and probably several years already of everyone doing "muri" to organize it. No community head or local mayor or any other person in a position of responsibility will want it to end on their watch. Local people don't forget if the local ski resort closes or the festival ends when Tanaka san was kucho and Murakami san was soncho. Its how inaka works.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Toshiaki Kikuchi, a local resident who claimed the talismans and who helped organize the festival for years, said he hoped the ritual will return in the future."

It might, and you know who will bring it back if and when it does? Immigrants, likely teaching the Japanese locals the history and roots of the festival as they do so. I've seen it before -- many born here (and that goes for other nations and their immigrant populations) take things for granted or lose interest in the how and why something goes on, with only some lamenting its disappearance... until foreigners interested in it through study and appreciation of Japanese culture bring it back, maybe with a couple of added twists. I know foreigners who teach Kanji to Japanese, and not just kids, as well as teaching them how to use Nippon-shiki but why it should not be a substitute for Hebon-shiki, etc.

This fact is often met with knee-jerk, adverse reaction, but it's simply the truth; people who WANT to come here and desire to learn about and spread the Japanese culture are more likely to preserve it than, for example, the people here who have been forced to give it up through lack of domestic interest and participation.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is going to have a very negative effect on local businesses.

For years, the naked man festival has been a very popular with foreign tourists, particularly groups of gay men from the US. They spent a lot of many at local hotels, restaurants, antique shops, and bath houses. Without the festival, the local area really loses out.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

More like a bunch of gay men having a party for themselves than anything to do with making babies with women.

Sounds fun!

Of course, puritans will whine. As if they aren't the broken human beings.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This actually a very sad and significant news.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites