Japan The traditional Naked Festival where women were admitted for

Japan: The traditional “Naked Festival where women were admitted for the first time in 1,250 years

For the first time in its 1,250year history, women took part in the festival

Credit, Portal


For the first time in its 1,250year history, women took part in the festival

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  • Author: Shaimaa Khalil
  • Scrolling, from BBC News in Tokyo
  • 39 minutes ago

A sea of ​​chants, with almost naked men jostling each other, a real back and forth towards the sanctuary.

“Washoy! Washoy! (“Come on! Come on!”),” they shout.

This scene has changed little in the 1,250 years that the Hadaka Matsuri, or Festival of the Nude, has taken place at Konomiya Shrine in central Japan.

But this year the festival brought a big change.

Far from the crowd of men, a group is about to become the first women to take part in the event.

Not that they haven't been there before.

“Women have always worked hard behind the scenes to support the men at the festival,” explains Atsuko Tamakoshi, whose family has worked at the event in Konomiya for generations.

Crowd at the festival in Japan

Credit, Portal


Some community members suggested that it remain a menonly event

But the idea of ​​actually taking part in the festival in which men try to ward off evil spirits before praying for good luck at the shrine appears to have never come up before.

According to Naruhito Tsunoda, there was never an actual ban. It's just that no one asked before.

And when they asked, the answer was simple.

“I think the most important thing is that there is a fun festival for everyone. I think God would be very happy with that too,” he told Portal.

But not everyone in the community was so friendly.

“There were many voices that were concerned (about our participation), saying, 'What are women doing at a men's festival?', 'This is seriously a men's festival,'” said Tamakoshi, 56.

“But we all agreed on what we wanted to do. We believed that if we were sincere, God would take care of us.”

The women waiting for their turn are sincere. What they are not is naked.

Instead, many wear a purple “happi” a type of traditional long robe and white shorts instead of the men's loincloths, and carry their own bamboo offerings.

They will not take part in pushing men to the shrine, nor will they pile on top of each other to touch Shin Otoko, the “male deity” a man chosen by the shrine. According to tradition, touching is used to ward off evil spirits.

However, this does not take away the significance of this moment.

“I feel like times have finally changed,” Yumiko Fujie tells the BBC.

“But I also feel a sense of responsibility.”

For many women, the change in festival policy is a significant moment

Credit, Portal


For many women, the change in festival policy is a significant moment

With their participation, these women are not only breaking genderspecific barriers. They also keep the tradition alive.

Last week at another nude festival held at the Kokuseki Temple in northern Japan it was reported that this would be the last year the event would take place. There just weren't enough young people to keep the festival going.

Japan has one of the fastest aging populations in the world. Last year, for the first time, more than one in ten people were 80 years old or older. The birth rate is now just 1.3 per woman last year just 800,000 babies were born.

Now it is time for the women to go to the shrine.

They form two parallel lines and carry long bamboo poles wrapped in intertwined red and white fabrics.

Atsuko Tamakoshi leads the procession whistling so they begin the rhythmic chant that men have heard repeating for decades.

“Washoi Washoi,” the women shout.

Atsuko Tamakoshicaption,

Atsuko Tamakoshi is one of the women who took part in the festival for the first time

They focus on movement and rhythm they have been practicing for weeks. And they know they have to do it right.

Aware that the attention of the media and viewers is on them, they also smile with a mix of nervousness and emotion.

Shouts of support can be heard from the crowd, some chanting “Gambatte!” (something like “carry on”) as they make their way through freezing temperatures.

They enter the courtyard of the Konomiya Shinto shrine and, like the men, are splashed with cold water. It seems to give them even more energy.

After accepting their offering, the women end the ceremony with the traditional greeting of two bows, two claps and a final bow.

And then the majesty of the moment comes to light. The women begin applauding, jumping and hugging each other while crying.

“Arigatogozaimasu! Arigato!” (Thank you very much! Thank you very much!), they say to each other and the crowd now applauds them.

“I was very tearful,” says Michiko Ikai. “I wasn’t sure if I would be able to participate, but now I feel a sense of accomplishment.”

As they leave the shrine, the women are stopped by the public who want to take photos with them and by the media who want to interview them. They are happy to answer.

The women who took part said they were enormously proudcaption,

The women who took part said they were enormously proud

“I did it. I’m very happy,” Mineko Akahori told the BBC.

“I’m so grateful to be able to take part as a woman for the first time.”

Her friend and teammate Minako Ando added: “It’s just wonderful to be the first to do something like this.”

“Times are changing,” says Hiromo Maeda. His family runs a local inn that has hosted festival goers for 30 years.

“I think our prayers and wishes are the same. It doesn't matter if it's a man or a woman. Our passion is the same.”

It's time for Atsuko Tamakoshi, who played such an important role throughout the day, to reflect on what they all achieved together. She is thrilled and relieved.

“My husband always took part in this festival,” she tells the BBC.

“And I was always a spectator. Now I am full of gratitude and happiness.”