The Naked Man Festival at Urasa’s Bishamondo is one of the highlights of the winter festival calendar. It has a long history, dating back hundreds of years and takes place in a really pretty setting. It is well-known as one of the strange festivals that are such a unique part of the experience in Japan.
It takes place on March 3rd every year and is easily accessed as it is a short walk from Urasa Station which is on the Joetsu Shinkansen Line. As you walk up to the temple the road is lined with food stalls.
The men taking part are dressed in fundoshi, tabi, and straw sandals and walk up the main street accompanied by a procession of giant candles.
Once they reach the temple they jump into a pool of spring water coming from a fountain, and then it is a rush to the main temple itself. There all the men are trying to get to the head of the scrum and squeeze into a small opening into the inner sanctum.
Bishamondo is a lovely, small town temple, and the Naked Man Festival is a great one to watch. It is not only unusual but there is also a good atmosphere. The pictures don’t quite capture how cold it is at this time of year in Snow Country, even when you are dressed properly. If you are in the area in early March it is definitely worth a visit. Even if you go to Bishamondo at other times of the year you can see the giant candles on display and pictures from the festival itself.