On January 7th in Enzoji temple in Yanaizu, one of the more famous hadaka matsuri is held. If you are new to the term, hadaka matsuri literally means naked festival, but in practice refers to any festival where the participants wear traditional white cloth thongs and little to nothing else. While not completely naked, the thongs are known to come off during the rigorous exercise demanded in many such festivals, and genitalia are not an uncommon sight at many. Prepare yourself.

At 8:30pm, participants begin the ascent of 113 stairs and then purify their bodies with ice-cold water before entering the temple. Inside, they compete to climb up a thick rope attached to the gong that hangs in the rafters. Those who manage this feat straddle the beams near the ceiling while others struggle up the rope.  Those who reach the gong at the top of the rope are blessed with health and well-being for the year. Photos of this ascent are stunning to say the least.

Anyone may attend (free of charge) and participation is also open to the public. Call 0241-42-2114 in advance if you’d like to strip down and climb up.

Access: 10-minute walk from Aizu Yanaizu Station on the JR Tadami Line.

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