Tokyobling's Blog

Yotsukaido Mud Festival – Chiba

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on February 5, 2014

It is February and that means the glorious Warabi Hadaka Matsuri, or the Doronko Matsuri, or the Yotsukaido Mud Festival is drawing closer. On the 25th of this month the toughest men of the city of Yotsukaido in Chiba prefecture to the east of Tokyo will dress up in nothing but loincloth and wade into the freezing waters of a muddy rice field to enact a ritual that is to guarantee them good luck for the year and good coming harvest. There are several parts to the festival, chanting in the water, a game of “kibasen” (one man on the shoulder of three others who battle other similar teams) and of course the blessing of the infants! In this ceremony infants not yet one year old are carried into the water and given a symbolic drop of mud on the forehead, applied with a rice stalk from last year’s harvest. I took these photos at last year’s festival that was so cold they had to break the thick ice of the pond before the ritual could start.

The festival involves a lot of mud, so spectators in the first rows will probably get a bit of splatter so if you intend to see it in person I’d recommend leaving your nicest clothes home for the day! You can see my earlier post, with more information, here. The festival takes place in and around the tiny hill top shrine of Warabi Mimusubijinja (和良比皇産霊神社) which is said to date back to 811 A.D. The pond is naturally fertilized which makes it an even more interesting experience if you get too close to the mud!

The Yotsukaido city council festival information page is here.

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6 Responses

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  1. aussie55 said, on February 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Reblogged this on Ethnographic materials ML..

  2. Dina Farmer said, on February 6, 2014 at 4:25 am

    Oh my goodness! Those brave mom’s trusting their children to someone in mucky water. I think I might have a panic attack letting them do that. LOL in Turkey we give children gold when they are newborns. This is a very interesting tradition!

    • tokyobling said, on February 6, 2014 at 8:19 am

      Are you Turkish?!?! I learn something new every day! (^-^;) Gold is also a brilliant idea. I wish my mother had thought of that… At least it is better than the iGadget that most parents seem to be willing to invest in for their kids these days… (^-^)

      • Dina Farmer said, on February 6, 2014 at 7:49 pm

        Oh yes! I’m half Turkish. :) It’s a great idea because later you can pay for things like college or whatever once they become 18.

  3. Shelli@howsitgoingeh? said, on February 9, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    I want to take my baby to be blessed at this ceremony!!!!

    • tokyobling said, on February 10, 2014 at 12:58 am

      That would be fantastic! But be careful – your husband might want to join in himself…! (^-^)


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