NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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どんと祭裸参り Donto-sai-hadaka-mairi Naked Parade of Donto Festival

Jp En

The Naked Parade of Donto Festival is an event held in various shrines in Miyagi Prefecture.

The Donto Festival is held in the lunar new year, around January 14th, at five shrines: Tenjin Shrine, Shinmei Shrine, Hachiman Shrine, Konpira Shrine, and Aosa Shrine.

During the festival, pine decorations, 'shimenawa' ropes for the New Year, and 'koshinpus' are dedicated to the shrine then burnt in holy fire. These dedications are prayers for prosperity and good health.

In the Naked Parade, 100 young people wearing white 'sarashi' loincloths and 'suteteko' long drawers parade through the town holding 'tori-oi' staffs and calling 'Ya, hoi hoi hoi' on their way to the shrine.

The origins of this Naked Parade are uncertain, but records from 250 years ago mention this event. It is believed that sake brewers started this parade as a prayer for safe brewing and for success in brewing high-quality sake.

The Donto Naked festival is a Shinto ritual carried out in a traditional manner by sake brewers.
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西大寺観音院 Saidai-ji-kannon-in Saidaiji Temple and Kannon'in Temple

Jp En

Saidaiji Temple and Kannon'in Temple are located to the north of Eian Bridge, which spans the Yoshii River. This river flows through eastern Okayama prefecture.

The principal image of Saidaiji is of the Senju Kannon or Thousand-armed Avalokiteśvara, and the temple flourished as a branch of Mt Koya's Shingon Buddhism. Saidaiji was established about 1200 years ago. Anryu-shonin founded it in 770~781, but it was renamed as Saidaiji in 1221. According to the temple's history, there were several halls (including Hondo, Jyugyodo, Miedo, Shodo, Kyozo and Kairou) before it was destroyed in a fire in 1229. We know from this that it was a huge temple.

Other than the temple itself, it is famous for a hadaka matsuri ('naked festival') that takes place annually on the 3rd Saturday in February. During the event, nearly naked men undergo a water ritual called 'mizugori' then fight for two wooden sticks called 'shingi'. It is counted as one of Japan's three major eccentric festivals.
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