naked men festival

The Naked Men “Ariuji Shrine Bandai” Festival, Kamikawa, Saitama.

Naked Men Festival

The naked men festival is on the 19th of November annually, in Kamikawa town, Saitama prefecture. However, the 2022 event was held in March 2023. The event isn’t heavily advertised because it is not suitable to a lot of spectators, but they do list it on the November event round up on the town’s public relations magazine for locals.

During the time the festival is normally on there is also usually a winter cherry blossom festival on a ten minute drive away. However, in 2023 the festival was only on for one day, rather than the usual five weeks, in October. But the winter cherry blossoms are still in bloom and the autumn colors will be in bloom at the nearby Jomine Park!

Ariuji Shrine Bandai Festival

There is more to the festival than the naked men. But the festival inherited its nickname from this small element of the larger celebration. The unusual sight of near naked men in the middle of Autumn, with only a lion cloth to protect their modesty, is only about five minutes or so according to the Prefecture’s official “matsuri” Youtube channel:

The men donned only in loincloths toss red rice from a barrel they carry together. They say if a piece of that rice hits you that you will be able to avoid a disaster for a year. Furthermore, the festival attracts pregnant women because it is also said that a piece of rice landing on a pregnant woman equals a safe childbirth. Moreover for those hoping to get pregnant, eating the remains of the rice (not the pieces that were thrown!) will bless you with children.

The festival is about 300 years old. It is an intangible folk cultural property of Saitama. It is often also called the Aritsama Festival, but the registered name is Ariuji Shrine Bandai Festival. Official website.

Places of note in Kamikawa:

There is another festival annually in Chichibu that involves near naked men. This time instead of rice, they throw sake at each other and around the place: Inohana Amazake (sweet sake) Festival!

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