9K nearly naked men seek sacred wood

Feb. 22, 2009 at 8:11 PM
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OKAYAMA, Japan, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- About 9,000 men clad only in loincloths joined in a free-for-all at a Buddhist temple in Japan Sunday, trying to secure two pieces of sacred wood.

The event at Saidaiji Temple in Okayama was part of the 500th anniversary of Saidaiji Eyo, described as "one of Japan's three oddest festivals," Kyodo reported.

Whoever got out with the two chunks of wood, if not his "fundoshi" or white loincloth, was to be proclaimed by the temple's monks as "the man of fortune for the year."

The ceremony began about 10 p.m. Saturday with a purification ritual in which the men poured cold water on themselves. Then, at midnight, the monks turned off the lights and dropped the two 8-inch sticks among them and the struggle began.

There was no word on who turned out to be the lucky guy.

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