Deep in the depths of winter, temperatures still only drop to around zero degrees in Takamatsu. Admittedly this isn’t really cold, however just a short shot across the water there are 8000 men of all ages deciding to push the limit.

It might not exactly be freezing but with nothing more than a loincloth to protect your dignity, I’d say it’s definitely more than just a little bit chilly.

Okayama Naked Man Festival, or Hadaka Matsuri (裸祭り) to give it its proper title, is a celebration of… something. To be honest, I’m not quite sure.  Symbolism aside, this is a great festival that is lively and growing in members each year - please excuse the phrasing.

An unfortunate metaphor for something, the festival has a lengthy build up followed by a climactic end which is all over in around 10 seconds. 6 hours of standing, eating and drinking to keep yourselves happy in the cold all end with a flash of light, a jostling of flesh and a violent mini battle for the sake of a lucky stick.

It’s difficult to describe what it is that brings so many people to this festival but undoubtedly it is worth seeing at least once. And if you’re brave enough then how about taking a deep breath, stripping down to your loin cloth and joining the crowd… Please just avoid the edge of those steep temple steps.
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