I see you were as intrigued as I to
see gain further cultural enlightenment. The unofficial title drew a bus load of screaming, rabid “50 is the new 20” year olds. Not since the opening of the first male strip clubs in the 80`s have I seen a group of women claw their way on to a bus loaded with kid snacks driven by a Japanese man named Gary.
The official title- The Warabi Hadaka Matsuri doesn`t quite draw the same crowd.We found ourselves the lone Westerners. (Except for Tokyobling who hid among the crowd with his widow maker. See his great pics here) For the Warabi Hadaka Matsuri, local folks gathered to have the babies born the previous year blessed with rice stalks and mud ensuring their prosperity and that of the community. Mixing a temperature of 20 degrees, an icy pond, babies in various states of mind, and sake forms a combustible environment ripe for entertaining blog pictures.
Unlike my usual posts where I amuse (myself) with puns and feeble attempts at humor, this story is best told with pictures.
Once upon a time, in a land known as Chiba prefecture, a rowdy crowd of Japanese people would gather on the coldest day of the year to dunk their bravest and mostly nude men in to a muddy pond while juggling a baby snug against their chests. Their quest was to bless the baby with mud from the enchanted lake- uhh- rice paddy pond using a rice stalk.
First, the floating ice was scraped and piled on the side of the enchanted lake -errrr- rice paddy pond.
Somewhere in the depths of the temple, Dads, Uncles, Grandpas and family patriarchs stripped down and were handed their charges.
A festive procession of screaming children and cold men made its way to the Shrine.
The men cursed the evil
enchanted lake rice paddy goddess for not demanding this ritual take place during the summer further fueling the goddess` father issues.
All the older brothers and sisters were so excited. One followed the procession beating each Dad on the butt. She finished with a peck to her Dad`s cheek.
Next came the blessings. It was “boo`d” by all the babies. Loudly.
After a long procession down a long icy hill, the most brave waded in to the enchanted lake/rice paddy pond.
The babies were then dropped off at the shrine so the men could fight sea monsters or each other. Fending off enchanted lake – I mean rice paddy pond- sea monsters and neighbors requires sake.
Mix men, mud, and sake and soon you get chicken fights and mud wrestling. The goddess threw up her hands in exasperation.
But then they remembered their second purpose- the crowd should also receive a blessing.
No one was spared.
All were blessed. All ate good food. The brave men and babies had a nice nap.