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Old 08-12-2016, 03:06 PM   #1
A.T. Hagan
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Default Japanese 'Naked' Festivals Keep Centuries-Old Tradition Alive


Boys ranging from six to 12 prepare their flags for the Shimadachi
Hadaka Matsuri, an annual festival rooted in Shinto tradition in which
the children parade through town to ward off evil spirits and pay
respects to the god of health.
Elise Hu/NPR

The hadaka matsuri or "naked festival" dates back centuries in Japan. Men perform in traditional fundoshi (loincloth) to purify themselves before gods, to bring luck and prosperity or to welcome new seasons.

To see one for myself, I headed in early July to Shimadachi, a village high up in the Japanese Alps — where elementary schoolboys keep up the tradition of marching around town in only loincloth.

While perhaps strange if you've got a Western sensibility, the practice is rather routine and vaunted here. It is believed that nearly 300 years ago, evil spirits had sickened the townsfolk with disease. When the village boys paraded around wearing loincloth, prayed to the Shinto god of health at a small temple and then purified themselves publicly before the gods, they were able to ward off disease, driving out those evil spirits.

No one wants to be the one to stop a centuries-old tradition, so the hadaka matsuri continues. I followed along as nearly 90 boys prayed two-by-two at a small Shinto temple, then shouldered giant flags mounted on bamboo and marched around their town this way for nearly two hours. (They did get a break in a nearby auto repair shop, to fuel up with some snacks).
The rest at NPR.
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Old 08-12-2016, 10:43 PM   #2
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Yeah, you still see the fundoshi being worn in festival parades here...though some opt for short shorts. The naked body doesn't carry as much stigma here as in other places due to the public baths I guess. However, you won't usually see women wearing tank tops, or showing clevage. Legs are okay so you'll see shorts and mini skirts. I haven't completely figured out what denotes unseemly yet. Also PDA's are almost unheard of, I know DH and I cause quite a stir because we hold hands in public and will give each other a quick kiss during the greeting time at church.
The other day while out and about I saw a childrens' wading pool and the kids were wearing shorts or swim suits and in the midst of it all was a little boy about 5 yrs old that was completely naked. Nobody cared.
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alive, centuriesold, festivals, japanese, naked, tradition

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