Friday, January 15, 2010

Let's Get Naked! - The Dontosai Festival

Imagine walking along a frigid Japanese street in early January, minding your own business, when around the corner jogs a group of Japanese men in little more than what look like white bike shorts and fundoshi loincloths, ringing bells and carrying flags.

Welcome to the city of Sendai's Dontosai Festival (どんと祭), an old tradition in the northern part of Japan's main island.

When I first moved to Sendai, I was one of the folks walking down the street when the gentlemen passed by, at the time having no idea what was going on but pretty sure it wasn't a drinking party gone awry.

It turned out the bell ringing and mini-parade are part of the festival, which is when all of the New Year's decorations are burned and people wish for luck in business and health. For a week or so leading up to the festival, people take paper shopping bags full of decorations to toss atop a huge pile outside of the city's largest shrine, the Osaki Hachiman shrine. On the night of January 14th, the festival is held, the men go jogging in their traditional skivvies ringing bells for luck, and the decorations are ritually burnt and disposed of.

Today sees everyone back in their coats and gloves, though no doubt some of the women are disappointed. ;)

Image copyright City of Sendai Tourism Board

1 comment:

Kelly Maple said...

LOL! I would have been like... O.o What the fuzzy blue cat?!