Honshu Island: Braving the chilly weather, around 10,000 men gathered at Japan’s Honshu Island on Saturday to take part in the annual Naked Festival. Yes, you read it right! This bizarre event called ‘Hadaka Matsuri’ is held every third Saturday of every year in February at a sacred temple known as the Saidaiji Kannonin Temple, in hopes of gaining a bountiful harvest, prosperity and fertility. Also Read - 112-Year-Old Chitetsu Watanabe From Japan Crowned as World's Oldest Male, Says Smiling is the Secret

However, as the name of the event suggests, participants don’t necessarily go naked completely, instead, most of them wear a Japanese loincloth called ‘fundoshi’ along with a pair of white socks.



As per reports, the event started at 3:20pm (local time) with another separate event for young boys with an aim to foster interest in younger generations.

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And there it is! The shot I have been waiting for in 2020. During the 511th Saidaiji Eyo aka Hadaka Matsuri (naked festival) approximately 10.000 men in Mawashi (loincloth) chase a wooded stick called Shinghi. The winner is the Fukuotoko (lucky man). A title involving honour and pride throughout the year. The air was so thickly filled with steamed testosterone that it was nearly impossible to snap this shot from above. A fogged up lens is hard to handle – certainly not as hard as being stuck in the middle of heated flesh for 90 minutes and fight for your annual luck. Congratulations to the winner! Ps. Find the two foreigners!! 🇯🇵📸🍀🦄 #hadakamatsuri #saidaijieyo #YourShotPhotographer #natgeo #natgeotravel #natgeojapan @natgeojapan #nakedmenfestival #exithamster #okayama #redbulletin #lonelyplanet #lovers_nippon #japan

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As a part of the rituals of the festival, men spend the initial hours running around temple grounds and purifying themselves with freezing cold water and then head towards the main temple, according to a CNN report.

The participants then jostle and tussle to find two lucky sticks that the priest of the temple throws along with 100 other bundles of twigs. Many end up with bruises and injuries at the end of the event as they struggle to find the lucky sticks. Whoever succeeds in grabbing them is guaranteed a year of good fortune, according to myths and legends.

This year, amid the coronavirus outbreak, hand sanitizers were placed at the temple entrance and around the festival.

Here are some other pictures and videos from the event:

This tradition was started at least 500 years ago, during the Muromachi Period (1338-1573).