Ten thousand men stripped off to take part in “Hadaka Matsuri”, an annual naked festival in Japan‘s Honshu Island.

The loincloth-clad competitors gathered at the Saidaiji Temple in Okayama Prefecture for the event to celebrate prosperity and fertility. 

Their aim was to snatch one of two 20cm-long “shingi” wooden sticks thrown by a priest into the crowd. 

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The sticks, thrown among 100 bundles of twigs, are meant to bring a year of good fortune to whoever is lucky enough to catch them. 

Men dressed in loincloths react as a priest splashes water on them before they prepare to snatch a wooden stick called ‘shingi‘ (REUTERS)

Similar naked festivals are held throughout Japan every year, as part of a tradition that is said to stretch back 500 years.

The event also includes bathing in cold water for an hour or two to purify the soul.

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