As you may have ascertained from the accompanying image, this is another one of Japan's renowned "naked" festivals. Before you get carried away, it would be better described as almost naked as the male-only participants protect their modesty with a handily placed white loin cloth. Japan has rankings for everything. And so, this festival with a 500-year history is rated as one of the top three eccentric festivals in Japan. Given the competition, you can be assured that this festival won't disappoint in the eccentricity stakes. What happens? The festival sees the 9,000 participants in a rough and tumble game to catch two lucky sticks called shingi as well as 100 bundles of willow strips, which are tossed into the crowd by priests from an elevated window. Before the tussles to get hold of one of the sticks, the participants work themselves into a frenzy in the streets around the shrine on their way to the event. How to get there The closest station is Saidaiji Station (JR Ako Line). Take the Ako Line from Okayama Station on the Sanyo Shinkansen.