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Hadaka Matsuri: Japan's famed Naked Festival canceled for all but a select few

February 21, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 22.4%. 1 min read.

This time a year ago, thousands gathered for Japan's annual Hadaka Matsuri -- popularly known as the "Naked Festival"-- in Okayama prefecture. The photos and videos of last year's event are a surreal reminder of how much has changed since then.

(CNN) — This time a year ago, thousands gathered for Japan's annual Hadaka Matsuri -- also popularly known as the "Naked Festival"-- in Okayama prefecture in the southern part of Honshu island.

In today's climate of social distancing, the video highlights from last year's event (see above) are a surreal reminder of how much has changed since then.

But event organizers confirmed to CNN Travel that this year's Hadaka Matsuri event, which took place on February 20, was limited to only a select, socially distanced group of 100 or so men who had caught the shingi in past years, and was closed to spectators.

Rather than battle for the batons, the men gathered at the Saidaiji Kannonin Temple to pray for fertility, an end to the pandemic and world peace, while observing safety measures including social distancing.

The Naked Festival evolved from a ritual that started 500 years ago during the Muromachi Period (1338-1573), when villagers competed to grab paper talismans, which were given out by a priest at the Saidaiji Kannonin Temple.

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