Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
  • Hokkaido
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Festivals & Events

Naked Man Festival 西大寺(はだか祭り)

A centuries-old winter spectacle full of wild action, bare skin and music

The Saidaiji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri in Okayama is a raucous festival all about luck and happiness, in which a crowd of thousands of nearly naked men jostle for lucky objects tossed by priests in the cold of late February.

The festival evolved from a ritual started 500 years ago, when worshippers competed to catch paper talismans called Go-o thrown by a priest at Saidaiji Kannon-in Temple. These tokens marked the completion of New Year ascetic training by the priests. Those who snagged talismans had good things happen to them, so more people requested them year by year.

Don't Miss

  • Seeing and even joining in the energetic Naked Man Festival
  • Having lunch at Cafe Chakura near Saidaiji Kannon-in Temple

How to Get There

The festival is easily accessible from JR Okayama Station.

Take the Ako Line from Okayama Station to Saidaiji Station. Saidaiji Kannon-in is an easy 10-minute walk due south of the station.

Honoring the goddess of mercy

The object of worship at Saidaiji Kannon-in Temple is the thousand-armed Kannon. This temple marks the beginning of the Chugoku Pilgrimage, and the festival's significance has to do with this than the beauty of the temple.

Not quite naked

Up to 10,000 men take part in the festivities, dressed only in simple white loincloths and tabi socks. This is quite a feat in itself, because the festival is held on the third Saturday of February. They spend an hour or two running around the temple grounds and through a fountain of near-freezing water, an act said to purify the body and soul.

Some go it alone or in small groups, but most are part of fairly large teams, many of which represent area businesses. The goal is to catch one of the two scented wooden sticks called shingi that are thrown into the crowd by a temple priest. Whoever catches one can expect good fortune for a year.

The festivities don't just end there. There are actually 100 lucky items thrown into the crowd. While not as coveted as the sticks, which bring good luck to the receiver for the year, these items are all highly coveted, and the competition fierce.

Child-friendly festivities

Before the main attraction, there is a children’s version of the festival with participants representing their local community. Parents and their kids get ready for this unique rite of passage that also strengthens the bonds between residents. It's a more subdued part of the festival, but visitors can see how this ritual gets passed down through the generations.

Make friends with the locals

During the festival, the nearby retro shopping street of Go Fuku Dori is lit up and full of good cheer. Local shopowners open their doors so that spectators and participants can warm up and chat with new acquaintances. There is a party atmosphere with people playing live music into the night.

Join in if you like

People from around the world have been part of the Saidaiji Eyo Naked Man Festival. You don’t have to be a local to participate, but you do have to register in advance with the temple and buy a loincloth.

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