The Warabi Naked Man Festival

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.

20130405-064828.jpgHer mother was not as amused.

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.

Several rounds.


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.



Photo by Sheryl LaScala

All were blessed. All ate good food. The brave men and babies had a nice nap.


Photo by Sheryl LaScala

The End.

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25 Responses to The Warabi Naked Man Festival

  1. Ann Marie Skalecki says:

    OMG!!! LOVE IT! You sure are making the most of your last few months!!! Miss you! Enjoy! When are you moving?

    xo Ann Marie

    Ann Marie Skalecki


  2. Maria says:

    Thank you. Just… thank you. 🙂


  3. I died laughing, especially the little girl smacking butts! Haha! Your words were just as amusing as the photos!


    • I laugh every time I see that picture. When I show it to Japanese people their first reaction is dead shock- then they laugh. SO not the thing to do! Thanks Love.Antoinette!


  4. I can not stop laughing!
    Thank you for this although my boyfriend may try to have me medicated now.
    The true belief and faith those men must have to go into the ‘pond’ is fascinating.
    I love the commitment to culture in Japan.

    I am so sad that you are moving and yet so looking forward to discovering Canada through you!



  5. Tori Nelson says:

    The pic of all the men playing in mud is exactly what I fear will happen every time I leave my toddler alone while I take a shower. Also, Bow-Chicka-Blessings. This post is awesome 🙂


  6. Absolutely great fun… to watch!

    Is it a coincidence that as you get ready to leave Japan your outings have taken a… um… shall we say, less sophisticated turn? 🙂


  7. Tar-Buns says:

    What fun! I’m sure you’re right about the need for plenty of sake’ before the muddling began. Brrrrr….. You’re doing a great job at seeing everything you can before moving. Carry on! 🙂


  8. Paul says:

    Sounds like a fun way to spend a day, Sake, playing in mud and sleeping. Don’t you young women wish you were blokes, sometimes? Keep up the good work!


  9. No way. North America will feel so ….humdrum! – after this.


  10. I`ll have to start some things….


  11. Ashmore says:

    And we thought that the Men+Alcohol+Mud=Shenanigans formula only applied at fraternity parties (remember KA Honors Day party our freshman year?). Nice to know it is international!


    • More like the Phi Hell`s Angels party where they tore up the front lawn with motor cycles! I remember I found a pair of white patent leather gogo boots in the garbage- just happened to be my size. Wore em. Ended up in the yearbook. I know- it`s a guy thing. Just sayin`.


  12. Dana says:

    I love that photo of you at the end of the post– beautiful! Sounds like yet another awesome Japanese event. 🙂


  13. LOL, looks like you had a blast! Babies galore and mud wrestling, what an interesting occasion – love the photos!


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