Mizusawa, Iwate - Japan

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Kokuseki-ji Somin-sai

The "Kokuseki-ji Somin-sai" festival (festival of reanimation or resurrection of the Kokuseki temple) is a festival where Japanese men, completely naked or wearing just a "fundoshi" (a kind of white underwear that covers just the sex), famous in whole Japan. It takes place at Kokuseki-ji temple, in the village of Kuroishi, in Mizusawa, Oshu city in Iwate prefecture.
This festival takes place every year in early February (in 2006 it was on February 4th) in our solar calendar, or January 7th in the ancient lunar calendar, from 10PM to 6AM. The "Somin-sai" festival aims at avoiding the disasters and having good harvests.

These naked men parade without stopping, during hours, from the temple to the river, where they enter and pour icy water on their nked body... then they go back to the temple shouting "Ja Soo". After the cold test with snow and icy water, the fire test takes place at midnight. The naked men rise a pyre, put fire on it and climb on the top of the smoking pyre, singing and shouting "Ja Soo"...

Of course during these 8 hours of folly, Japanese sake is flowing in torrents! It helps to keep warm and fool... ;-)

You can find the pictures of Kokuseki-ji Somin-sai I took here: pictures of Somin-sai here