The Kokuseki-ji Temple Somin-sai Festival is a so-called “hadaka matsuri” (naked festival) with over 1,000 years of history held at Myokenzan Kokuseki-ji Temple throughout the night of the 7th day of the Lunar New Year to pray for abundant harvests and good health.
The festival starts at 22:00 at night. The naked men first gather in front of the shrine office when the bell signals them to. They cleanse their bodies in the Ruritsubo River (Yamauchi River) while shouting “Jasso Joyasa,” and then start with the “Hadaka Mairi” (naked shrine visit) by visiting Yakushi-do and Myoken-do to pray for abundant harvests and good health. Following this, rituals known as Hitaki Nobori, Betto Nobori, Onigo Nobori, and the Somin-Bukuro Sodatsusen battle are held and continue until dawn. The Somin-Bukuro Sodatsusen at the end is a noisy scuffle that lasts nearly three hours until 7 in the morning.
The general public can also participate in the Somin-Bukuro Sodatsusen! You can participate if you register at the festival information desk from midnight. So if you’re up for it, you should prepare a loincloth and tabi socks and give it a try.