Society 11:30 26/02/2024 World

Women to take part in Japan's 'naked festival' for first time

Women in Japan have been permitted to take part in an ancient ceremony, known as the naked festival, for the first time in the event’s history, albeit with modifications, the Guardian reports.

Every February, thousands of men dressed in next to nothing take part in the hadaka matsuri at a Shinto shrine in Inazawa, a town in central Japan, to drive away evil spirits over the coming year.

The festival has been regarded as off-limits to women since it was first held in the town about 1,250 years ago, but organisers will allow a group of about 40 women to take part on 22 February, according to Japanese media reports.

The women, who will be fully clothed, will make ritual offerings of bamboo grass but will not be part of the festival’s momiai climax, in which men dressed only in fundoshi – a type of traditional loincloth – tabi socks and hachimaki bandanas clash with each other as they attempt to transfer their bad luck to a “chosen man” by touching him before he is withdrawn to the safety of the shrine.

Ayaka Suzuki, who campaigned for the unofficial ban on women to be lifted, said she had wanted to take part in the festival since she was a child. “I could have participated had I been a boy,” she told reporters, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.

Suzuki added that she would use the opportunity to pray for her family’s safety and for people affected by the recent deadly earthquake on the Noto peninsula.

Organisers of Japan’s myriad festivals have come under pressure to open them up to all-comers amid concern that rural depopulation could put an end to events traditionally dominated by local men.

This month, women took part in the Katsube fire festival in Shiga prefecture for the first time in its 800-year history.

But organisers of the Somin-sai – which also features minimal clothing – in the north-east town of Oshu announced last month that the event would be held for the final time this year.

Daigo Fujinami, chief priest at the temple that hosts the 1,000-year old festival, told the Mainichi Shimbun that the decision had been prompted by the advanced ages of many local men and a lack of people to oversee the event.

Fujinami dismissed suggestions that the festival be opened up to people living outside the town, saying it would not be in keeping with “core rituals” that had been handed down by generations of locals.

While some have welcomed the revamped naked festival as a modest step forward for gender equality, other areas of traditional life in Japan are still off limits to women, including the dohyo ring used in the country’s sport of sumo.

While women compete in amateur sumo, they cannot fight professionally and are banned from even stepping on to the dohyo – a dirt-covered circle marked out with half-buried rice-straw bales – used in the six main tournaments held every year.

The rule has occasionally caused embarrassment to organisers of the centuries-old sport.

Sumo authorities battled allegations of sexism in 2018 after several women, including a nurse, rushed on to a sumo ring to administer first aid to a local mayor who had collapsed after suffering a stroke. Using the public address system, the referee repeatedly ordered them to leave the ring, but the women refused.

Share |
Տեքստում սխալ կամ վրիպակ նկատելու դեպքում, ուղարկեք խմբագրին հաղորդագրություն` նշելով տվյալ սխալը, այնուհետև սեղմելով Ctrl-Enter:


Opposition files lawsuits against Civil Contract
The opposition Mother Armenia faction in the Yerevan City Council has filed three lawsuits against the municipal faction of Prime Minister Nikol...
EU mission in Armenia welcomes first Canadian expert
The EU Mission in Armenia (EUMA) has welcomed the first Canadian expert. “Thrilled to welcome the first Canadian expert Alexander...
Temperatures to hit 28C in Yerevan this week
Showers and thunderstorms coupled with strong winds are expected in some parts of Armenia on Monday and later this week. Rainless weather is...
President: Kazakhstan ready to increase exports to Armenia up to $350 million
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan reaffirmed their strong commitment to enhancing...
Vardan Ghukasyan announces street protests in Yerevan
U.S.-based blogger Vardan Ghukasyan (better known as "Dog”), the founder of the Democracy, Law and Discipline party, has announced...
Opposition MP slams Brussels talks as 'disgraceful failure'
The Armenia-EU-US meeting held in Brussels on April 5 was a "disgraceful failure", Artur Khachatryan, an MP from the opposition...
UK’s Cameron urges Israel to use 'head as well as heart' after Iran attack
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron urged Israel not to retaliate after Iran's drone and missile attack, saying it should "think...
Armenian Foreign Ministry says no 'substantive' talks with UK over Rwanda deal
Armenia and the United Kingdom have had no “substantive” talks on a possible Rwanda deal, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Ani Badalyan...
Police in Yerevan seize flyers about 'missing' ombudsperson
Police officers on Monday seized flyers regarding Armenian Human Rights Defender Anahit Manasyan distributed by two employees of the...
Arsonist targeting Armenian cemetery in Fresno
Since the middle of January, the Fresno Ararat Armenian Cemetery has been targeted by an arsonist, FOX26 News reports. Six total...
New Middle East crisis will directly affect Armenia, MP warns
The escalation of tensions in the Middle East will have a direct impact on Armenia, warns opposition MP Tigran Abrahamyan. His comments came...
UK targeting four countries, including Armenia, for Rwanda deal
Britain is targeting four more countries to replicate the Rwanda migrant deportation scheme, according to leaked documents. The UK has...
Kazakh president arrives in Armenia
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan has arrived in Armenia on an official visit.  He was welcomed by Deputy Prime...
AntiFake employees detained in Yerevan
Two employees of the AntiFake media outlet were detained in Yerevan early on Monday, lawyer Ruben Melikyan revealed. Citing preliminary...
Armenia calls for dialogue in Middle East amid escalating tensions
Escalating tensions in the Middle East are a cause for grave concern, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said on Sunday following Iran's...
Temperatures to hit 27C in parts of Armenia
Rainless weather is expected in Armenia on Saturday, the met service reports. Showers are forecast for the country’s regions on Sunday...
One killed in cable car accident in Turkey
A cable car ferrying passengers in a mountainous area of southern Turkey broke apart after colliding with part of the metal structure supporting...
Armenian government announces Kazakh leader's visit to Yerevan
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev will travel to Armenia on an official visit on April 15. The Armenian government said in a...
Rally held in Armenian border village
A large group of public figures, politicians and clergymen on Saturday gathered in Voskepar, a border village in Armenia’s Tavush...
Transavia launches Yerevan-Lyon flights
Transavia Airlines launched flights between Yerevan and Lyon on April 13, the Armenia International Airports CJSC reported. Flights will be...
Catholicos Karekin II offers condolences to families of killed soldiers
His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, has expressed condolences to the families of the Armenian servicemen...
Pashinyan: Armenia seeks to prevent all attempts to politicize EAEU
Armenia is seeking to stop all attempts to politicize the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said. "We...
Five killed in Sydney mall attack
Five people were killed and several others injured -- including a small child -- when a knife-wielding attacker rampaged through a busy Sydney...
13 Armenian soldiers hospitalized after military truck crash – Defense Ministry
Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan and Health Minister Anahit Avanesyan on Saturday visited the Central Clinical Military Hospital in...
Kazakh president to pay official visit to Armenia
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan will pay a one-day official visit to Armenia on April 15. He is expected to hold talks with...
Defense Ministry reports no serious injuries after military truck crash in Gegharkunik
The Armenian Defense Ministry says no one was seriously injured in the wake of a military vehicle crash in Gegharkunik Province on Saturday....
Monument Watch exposes Azeri lies about Artsakh's ancient culture
The video "Ancient Aghdam Destroyed Nomadic Heritage", produced by the Azerbaijani CBC TV channel, contains several arbitrary...
Armenian Defense Ministry names soldiers killed in road accident
The Armenian Defense Ministry identified the servicemen killed in a road accident on Friday. Four Armenian soldiers were killed and 20...
Armenia denies false Azeri reports of shooting
The Defense Ministry of Armenia has rejected Azerbaijan's false accusations of cross-border shooting. “The statement of the...
Germany urges its citizens to leave Iran
Germany warned its citizens to leave Iran, saying that there was a risk both of a sudden escalation in Tehran's existing tensions with...

Follow us and get updates!

Most popular articles

{"core.blocks.header.spell_message1":"Selected mistake: ","core.blocks.header.spell_message2":"Send a message about the mistake?"}