OKAYAMA, Japan (Reuters) – About 10,000 Japanese men clad only in loincloths braved freezing temperatures at the weekend to pack into a temple and scramble in the dark for lucky wooden talismans tossed into the crowd, in a ritual that dates back five centuries.
The highlight of the raucous day-long ‘Hadaka Matsuri’ festival came at 10 p.m. on Saturday, when the lights went out and a priest threw bundles of twigs and two lucky sticks, each about 20-cm (8-inch) -long, among the participants.
That set off a 30-minute tussle for the sticks, coveted as symbols of good fortune and prosperity, although most men escaped with just a few cuts and bruises, in contrast to past occasions, when some have been crushed to death.
“Once a year, at the coldest time in February, we wrap ourselves in just a loincloth to be a man,” said 55-year-old Yasuhiko Tokuyama, the president of a regional electronics firm.
“That’s the significance of this event and why I continue to participate.”…
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