One of Japan's most popular religious festivals was held recently in Okayama in South West Japan.
SV & GV: Young Japanese men in loin cloths run chanting along road at the Saidaigi Temple in Okayama. (2 SHOTS)
GV: Men jump around in pool splashing each other.
GV & SV: Men jogging in group towards temple. (4 SHOTS)
GV & SV: Men watch from temple balcony as others enter temple and are splashed with water by priests. (4 SHOTS)
GV: Men on balcony jump into the crowd. (8 SHOTS)
SV & GV: Crowd watch as more men jump from balcony and join the celebrations. (4 SHOTS)
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Background: One of Japan's most popular religious festivals was held recently in Okayama in South West Japan. It is called the "naked" festival, and involves finding a small holy wand. The wand is meant to bring good luck.
SYNOPSIS: For 500 years, the festival has been held at the Saidaigi Temple in Okayama. This year 5,000 young men took part, wearing the traditional 'fundoshi', or loin-cloth.
The aim of the festival is to find a small holy wand called a 'shingi', which is thrown by the temple priests in the main temple building. The finder of one of the wands reputedly has good luck during the next year.
Before the wands are handed out, the young men have to be purified by the priests' throwing cold water over them.
Then the scramble for the wands begins. Usually, they are never shown; the lucky finders keep them well hidden.
The lively jumping and rhythmic chanting helps keep the rod-hunters warm, and just as well. This year they scrambled around in a bitter temperature of minus four degrees centigrade (25 degrees Fahrenheit).
More than 20,000 visitors watched this year's festival. Legend says the spectators pick up a little of the good luck just by being there. And observers said the record attendance this year reflected the desire among many Japanese for better luck in a time of economic depression.