During Saidaiji Eyo—also dubbed the "Hadaka Matsuri (naked festival)"—countless men in Mawashi (loincloth worn by sumo wrestlers) scramble for a wooden stick called Shingi. He who wins the Shingi is referred to as the "Fukuotoko (lucky man)" and will receive great health and fortune during that year. This long-lasting festival has continued for over 500 years, and it is the dream of the local men to be a Fukuotoko—the ultimate honor of the year. Because of the pride involved, the intensity of approximately 10,000 men scrambling for the Shingi in a heated clash is quite a sight to see. Foreign visitors are also able to participate (must apply prior to the festival: please check info below), so if you have confidence in your build, aim to become a Fukuotoko!
"Eyo-taiko" starts from around 7 pm. While Saidaiji Eyo is thought of as a "man's festival," the drummers featured here are all female. The women gracefully perform prayers for the men's fight. Paid seats are recommended for the viewing of the spirited men. For tickets call Saidaiji Eyo Hosankai (086-942-0101).
Reserved seats: ¥5,000
Standing seats: ¥1,000 or ¥500
All equipment needed, such as Mawashi (loincloth worn by sumo wrestlers) and Tabi (traditional footwear) are sold at the festival venue. (Mawashi: ¥1,000, Tabi: ¥1,000, changing room fee: ¥1,000) Head over to the temple's main hall once you've changed into your Mawashi and Tabi. Follow the crowds of people, since there are set routes. Along the pathway, there is an area known as the "Koritoriba" where people bathe in water to cleanse and purify the misfortunes of the past year. Please participate in these various events with respect to the cultures of the festival.
At 10 pm, the scramble fight for the Shingi finally begins. When the lights go out, the Shingi sticks are thrown into the dark crowd, as the excitement level of the men reach a climax. The Shingi sticks are soaked in perfume too, and in some cases the men follow the odor in trying to get to it.
Once you've grabbed the Shingi, it must be brought to where it will be verified if it is the actual Shingi. Once the Shingi is placed next to the wood that it was carved out of, and the grain of the wood in fact coincide, you are finally recognized officially as the Fukuotoko (lucky man of the year). The battle finishes once both of the two Shingi sticks are brought outside of the temple. The men show refreshed looks after the battle, and give each other praises for the good fight.
・Those who are under the influence of alcohol, or with tattoos cannot participate.
・Participants cannot be wearing Jikatabi or Tobitabi footwear.
・Use of violence or fights within the festival venue is strictly prohibited.
・Wearing glasses or metal items such as necklace or piercings is strictly prohibited.
(Neither Saidaiji Eyo Hosankai nor Kannon-in Temple can be liable for any injuries or deaths that may occur. Participate at your own risk, and please protect yourself well)
Access to Kinryosan Saidaiji Kannon-in Temple
JR Saidaiji Station
Line: JR Ako Line
Walk south for 10 min from JR Saidaiji Station
Address for Saidaiji Temple
3-8-8 Saidaijinaka, Higashi-ku, Okayama City