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Japan has many colorful festivals that are steeped in centuries of tradition, but to outsiders some of them are just a little bit strange. There are festivals that may cause participants injured or even died but still take part in every year. In this article, Toplisttips introduce you 5 most strange festivals in Japan. Let’s see:

Read: 15 Of The Most Unique Festivals Around The World/Top 14 Festivals around the World to Visit in 2015

5. Nakizumo Matsuri Festival

Most Strange Festivals

Nakizumo (“crying sumo tournament”) originated as a local festival in a small shrine in Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo. It has recently gained a country-wide popularity. The tournament rules are pretty simple (and apparently they differ from place to place). Two big men take two small children and present them on a ring against each other. Sometimes sooner sometimes later, the toddlers begin to cry and the one who does it louder wins. The result is delivered by a judge in a traditional attire typical to sumo referees.

Depending on the mood and personality of a baby, for some the bout is more fun than scary and instead of cry they burst in laughter. Some children are so bored and disinterested, they have no intention to cry and fall asleep. In such cases, four additional judges get into action trying to scare the the children by approaching with masks of demons. Japanese people believe that the more children cry, the luckier they get.

4. Onbashira Matsuri Festival

Most Strange Festivals

Onbashira is a festival held every six years in the Lake Suwa area of NaganoOnbashira  is a festival held every six years in the Lake Suwa area of Nagano, Japan. The purpose of the festival is to symbolically renew the Suwa Taisha or Suwa Grand Shrine., Japan. The purpose of the festival is to symbolically renew the Suwa Taisha or Suwa Grand Shrine.

Before this portion of the festival, huge trees are cut down in a Shinto ceremony using axes and adzes specially manufactured for this single use. Teams of men drag the logs down the mountain towards the four shrines of Suwa Taisha. The course of the logs goes over rough terrain, and at certain points the logs must be skidded or dropped down steep slopes. Young men prove their bravery by riding the logs down the hill in a ceremony.

Injuries happen every year but the festival is still organized periodically.

3. Yukake Matsuri Festival

Most Strange Festivals

The Yukake Matsuri Festival at Kawarayu Onsen Resort held in Naganohara-machi, gathers brave young men, who wear only the fundoshi (loincloth or traditional Japanese men’s underpants), and pours onsen water on each other in vigor, as well as the Hitoboshi held in Nanmoku-mura, a fire-spinning festival, where people enjoys watching the monks carrying large torches from a mountain and spinning around a blazing bundle of straws on a river bank are worth seeing. 

2. Hadaka Matsuri Festival

Most Strange Festivals

A Hadaka Matsuri is a type of Japanese festival, in which participants wear a minimum amount of clothing; usually just a Japanese loincloth (called fundoshi), sometimes with a short happi coat, and rarely completely naked. The naked festivals are held in dozens of places throughout Japan every year, usually in the coldest days of the year (in February). The most famous festival is the Saidai-ji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri held at Saidaiji Temple in Okayama, where the festival originated. Every year, over 9,000 men participate in this festival in hopes of gaining luck for the entire year.

1. Kanamara Matsuri Festival

Most Strange Festivals

The Shinto Kanamara Matsuri is held each spring at the Kanayama Shrine in Kawasaki, Japan. The exact dates vary: the main festivities fall on the first Sunday in April. The penis, as the central theme of the event, is reflected in illustrations, candy, carved vegetables, decorations, and a mikoshi parade.

The Kanamara Matsuri is centred on a local penis-venerating shrine. The legend being that a sharp-toothed demon (vagina dentata) hid inside the vagina of a young woman and castrated two young men on their wedding nights. As a result, the young woman sought help from a blacksmith, who fashioned an iron phallus to break the demon’s teeth, which led to the enshrinement of the item. This legend in Ainu language was published as “The Island of Women” by Basil Hall Chamberlain.

The Kanayama Shrine was popular among prostitutes who wished to pray for protection from sexually transmitted infections.

It is also said the shrine offers divine protections for business prosperity, and for the clan’s prosperity; and for easy delivery, marriage, and married-couple harmony.

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