Japan's 'naked man festival' ends after more than 1,000 years

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Feb. 21 (UPI) -- An annual event commonly known as the "naked man festival" came to an end after nearly 1,000 years due to the declining population in the area, organizers said.

The Somin-sai festival, commonly known as the "naked man festival," involves hundreds of loincloth-clad men gathering at the Kokusekiji Temple in Oshu to wrestle for ownership of a bag of talisman's blessed by the temple's chief priest.


The festival, which dates back more than 1,000 years, is held annually on the seventh day of the Lunar New Year.

Daigo Fujinami, chief priest of the Kokusekiji Temple, announced that this year's festival, which was held Saturday, was the facility's last.

"This decision is due to the aging of individuals involved in the festival and a shortage of successors," Fujinami wrote on the temple's website. "While efforts were made to continue the festival to the best of our abilities, in order to prevent last-minute cancellations or disruptions in the future, the decision to cancel the festival itself has been made."

This year's winner was local resident Kikuchi Toshiaki, 49, who is a member of the festival's preservation association.

"It is sad that the festival is ending. I participated in hopes that it would be a memorable festival," he told outlet NHK.


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