Those who keep two sacred wooden “shingi” in the middle of the crowd are considered the luckiest of the year.
According to the Asahi Shimbun, on the evening of February 16, the Saidaiji-eyo Festival took place at Kinryozan Saidaiji Temple, Okayama Prefecture, attracting about 10,000 men to attend. Topless and only wearing a small white loincloth, they bathed in the cold water before plunging into the search for wooden slats believed to bring good luck.
At around 22:00, all the lights are turned off, the abbot will throw two 20 cm long “shingi” sacred wooden slats from a 4 meter high window into the crowd below. For the next two hours, the men jostled and pushed each other for “shingi”.
The two people who keep the wooden sticks out of the temple are considered the luckiest of the year.
Saidaiji-eyo Festival dates back more than 500 years and is one of the highlights of Japan’s traditional festival season.