Naked man festivals
November 10, 2002 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Naked man festivals - if you're a fan of unique and colorful folk festivals, you may want to plan a trip to Japan. Naked man festivals are a fairly common occurrence. There's Hadaka Matsuri in January, Houne Matsuri in March and Minato Matsuri in August. Probably lots of others. Guys will need to dress in the fundoshi, traditional garb for the occasion. There are a few styles, one of which can be a little tricky. Women are generally on the sidelines, and their attire is colorful yet somewhat less revealing. Probably not safe for work, despite being steeped in tradition!
posted by madamjujujive (11 comments total)
For the truly curious, here are a few first-hand accounts from observers and participants.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:35 AM on November 10, 2002

This brings up something -- a semi-naked, rather than naked, festival -- I've been keeping myself from fouling the MeFi front page with for the last week or so. I can't believe that the Moon Amtrak festival is real, let alone that it's been going on for over 20 years. Has anyone out there ever been involved with this?

Doesn't poor Amtrak -- ridiculed by many while we throw billions in subsidies at the airlines-- have enough problems?
posted by LeLiLo at 8:57 AM on November 10, 2002

My first thought was "those wacky Japanese" and then read the moontrack site was a bit humbled. The Japanese event has much more of a history though.

The first hand accounts are hilarious. I wasn't really prepared for all of the butts on a Sunday morning, but after the initial shock, it was quite hilarious. Thanks.
posted by lampshade at 9:39 AM on November 10, 2002

Wonderful stuff, madamjujujive. I love those wooden phalluses being paraded down the street in the Houne Matsuri link. It's odd how we've, er, tucked away the adoration of the penis here in the U.S. Parading through town with a few of your pals while holding a ten-foot-long wooden dick over your head would probably get you arrested.
posted by mediareport at 9:44 AM on November 10, 2002

psst! i'm having my very own naked man festival right now!
posted by quonsar at 11:01 AM on November 10, 2002

the preceding link is NSFW. especially if you are a lumberjack.
posted by quonsar at 11:15 AM on November 10, 2002

Quonsar, I think it would be safe to say that any links in a thread marked "naked man" could probably be risky to open at work!
Lelilo, that Amtrak thing is indeed weird - I was quite surprised that its tolerated but there you have it.

mediareport, someone international (miguel?) could speak to this better than I, but I do think for all the apparent overt sexuality, in many ways we are a nation of prudes, particularly about nudity.

As for phallic worship, I know when I was in Portugal, I was startled by giant ceramic penises in many tourist shops. You could always spot Americans who were the only ones who paid them any attention. Well, certainly remnants of a past that revered the phallus can be found in older civilizations - Ireland and the Phallic continuum is an interesting site of phallic standing stones and Satan in the Groin is a site of medieval phallic carvings on churches.

I guess if you had to find similar celebrations here, Mardis Gras would be our closest type of ritual, but far more secular and less steeped in historical tradition. Perhaps Burning Man too, though I didn't; hear much about it this last year so perhaps it has jumped the shark.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:47 PM on November 10, 2002

For some reason, this reminds me of sheela na gigs... medieval erotic female carvings, popular in Norman churches.
posted by plep at 11:21 PM on November 10, 2002

There's also the Temple of the Phallus at Chichen Itza in the Yucatan, a small building off of the main paths with stone penises sticking out in a ring around the top.
posted by mediareport at 11:38 AM on November 11, 2002

I wear a sheela na gig pendant every day. It is the one piece of jewelry that I never, ever remove. (If anyone is interested, you can see a picture of it here--self link.)

It's amazing how many comments I get on her. People are never quite sure that they're seeing what they think they're seeing--no one expects a nice, normal looking girl such as myself to be wearing a pendant that's basically a naked woman grabbing herself. And they're always a little taken aback when I explain that she's a symbol of creation and destruction (I've read that she can be seen as almost a Celtic analog to the Hindu goddess Kali).
posted by eilatan at 11:52 AM on November 11, 2002

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