The Naked Men Festival, Kamikawa, Saitama.
Naked Men Festival
The naked men festival is on the 19th of November annually, in Kamikawa town, Saitama prefecture. And during the time the festival is on there is also a winter cherry blossom festival on a ten minute drive away. The cherry blossoms bloom with autumn colors in the background at the nearby Jomine Park.
However, in 2020, the festival was cancelled due to the Coronavirus. There is a possibility it will not be able to go ahead in 2021 either. We will not know until closer to the time.
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. It is said 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:
- 1 of only 3 of its type: Kanasana Shrine Kamikawa
- Shimokubo Dam and Kanna lake | KAMIKAWA
- Jomine Park for a scenic autumn camping trip
- Winter cherry blossom festival, Jomine Park
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!