Top 5 Weirdest Festivals in Japan

When you think about Japan, you imagine tea houses, beautiful gardens, painted geishas and samurais. Japanese culture is not only mystical, but colorful and diverse. Their connection with the land, nature and with their gods is something you can’t really comprehend unless you’ve lived with them. So one would really turn their heads up when they would see these cultured people parading down the streets half naked, or holding huge wooden phalluses. So here are the 5 weirdest festivals in Japan, which you just have to see to believe it.

Konaki Sumo

Parents from the West would be outraged if they would hear about the Konaki Sumo or ‘Crying Sumo’ festival, originated about 400 years ago. During this festivity, huge overweight Japanese sumo wrestlers hold babies younger than a year while a judge shouts and makes faces at them until they start crying. According to Japanese tradition the baby who cries first, or loudest if they started simultaneously is said to blessed by the Gods with good health. I don’t think westerners would agree with it.

Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival

The Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival festival held on the first two weeks of July in Fukuoka city ends with a race. It wouldn’t be all that weird, only the participants wear traditional loincloths and hold a large float weighing a ton. They have to run a 5 mile distance while people are throwing water at them for luck. There are also one or two people seated on the floats, making the whole structure even more heavy and dangerous to carry.

Hadaka Matsuri

A lighter version of a festival where men are wearing nothing but loincloths is the Hadaka Matsuri, meaning ‘Naked Festival’. This really bizarre holiday is more than 1200 years old and is celebrated in various forms in various parts of Japan. The more known event is held in Inazawa, during which only one man is completely naked while the others all try to touch him, transferring their own sins to him. It is not the safest festivals, considering everyone is drinking sake and picking a fight.

Kanamura Matsuri

Japan’s most infamous and maybe most bizarre festival is the Kanamura Matsuri, or the ‘Festival of the Steel Phallus’, held in Kawasaki every April 15th. During the event a huge statue shaped like men’s pride is carried around while people pray for fertility, easy delivery and good health. You can also buy gifts and candies shaped like phalluses.

Onbashira Festival

Maybe one of the most dangerous events in Japan is the Onbashira Festival which is held only every 6 years during April and May in Suwa City, Nagano. People cut down huge trees and slide down on the 15 meter long, weighing more than 10 ton logs. Many injuries and even deaths were reported; maybe that is why the festival is held only every six years.

Even if these 5 weirdest festivals in Japan look either outrageous or even dangerous, don’t make it discourage you. There is so much more to this country, you just have to explore it.

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  1. […] If you liked this post and got interested in this topic, read even more about other festivals in Ireland, like Street Performance World Championship in Cork, Portlaoise and Dublin or Gakway’s Arts Festival. Yet if you want to learn about other culture’s festivities check out the best music festivals of the Caribbeans or  the weirdest festivals in Japan. […]

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