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Naked Festivals Are Changing: Women Join for First Time, Swimsuits and Loincloths Welcome

Naked festivals are adapting to the modern era, including the Konomiya Hadaka Matsuri, where women participated for the first time in its 1,200-year history.



Women carry a broad-leaf bamboo offering at the Konomiya Hadaka Matsuri in Inzawa, Aichi Prefecture on February 22. (©Kyodo)

The age-old tradition of naked festivals (hadaka matsuri) held across Japan is undergoing significant changes. On February 17, the Somin-sai Festival held by Kokuseki-ji Temple in Oshu, Iwate Prefecture, drew its millennium-long history to a close, citing a shortage of participants. 

However, there is also a noticeable push towards adapting and preserving this tradition in the modern era. This includes an increasing acceptance of participants wearing traditional Japanese loincloths (fundoshi) and the inclusion of women in the rituals.

The Somin-sai Festival, which concluded its 1000-year history in 2024. (©Sankei by Kenji Suzuki)

Swimsuits and Loincloths

In 2024, the quirky Ya-Ya Festival in Owase City, Mie Prefecture, was held from February 1–6. From February 2 onwards, the festival showcased the lively neri ritual, where men rush at each other amidst enthusiastic shouts. This was followed by the korikaki ritual, where participants leap into the sea or river to purify themselves.

Full nudity had long been customary for the korikaki ritual. However, photos of the event spread on social media, raising concerns among local authorities that the event could be exploited for criminal purposes. In 2024, the festival's organizers allowed participants to wear swimsuits or loincloths.

Atsushi Naka is the 80-year-old chairman of the association representing the shrine parishioners. He remarked, "We've received positive feedback that swimsuits provide better speed and momentum for jumping into the water."

The Somin-sai Festival, which came to an end in 2024, was renowned for its vibrant tradition where men competed for hemp sacks containing amulets, known as somin-bukuro, in hopes of bountiful harvests. 

In the past, men participated fully naked, but controversies arose over images taken at the event. Consequently, participants were required to wear loincloths from 2007.

Men in loincloths participate in an intense scuffle at the Konomiya Hadaka Matsuri on February 22. (©Kyodo)

Women Welcome

Change is sweeping across various regions, including at the Konomiya Shrine in Inazawa City, Aichi Prefecture. The Konomiya Hadaka Matsuri is a lively festival where men clad in loincloths engage in intense scuffles. In 2024, the women participated in a related ritual called naoizasa on February 22. 

This was the first time in the festival's approximately 1,200-year history that women participated.


The women carried broad-leaf bamboo wrapped in long pieces of cloth, believed to offer protection from misfortune, into the shrine's precinct. They wore traditional garments including sarashi (traditional white cloth) and happi coats.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, men were required to be fully clothed when participating. In 2023, prompted by requests from local women's groups, the shrine decided to allow women to participate after considering safety measures. Before the festival, the organizers had estimated that around 100 women, aged from their 20s to 60s, would be joining the event.


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Shoki Nakamura, The Sankei Shimbun

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