Tokyobling's Blog

Warabi Naked Festival – Chiba

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on February 26, 2013

For hundreds of years now, in the little city of Yotsukaido (四街道市) in Chiba prefecture to the east of Tokyo, every year on February 25th the strongest men of the town has stripped to their loincloths and braved the icy waters of a rice paddy to bring the protection of the Gods to the newborns of the city. It was bitterly cold yesterday and before the ritual could start they had to break the ice with staffs and throw the thick sheets of broken ice up onto the banks of the rice paddy. One after the other the men would wade in with their assigned baby, taking a piece of dried grass and carefully putting a dot of mud from the rice field on the forehead or cheeks of the child. Some babies were screaming, some were sobbing and some seemed totally indifferent to what was going on, a couple of babies were even sleeping! It must have been amazingly cold, as the whole festival took more than a two hours to complete. Between rounds of babies the men would dash up onto the grounds of a nearby shrine to huddle next to a fire before braving the waters again. It took a lot of concentration to make it down into the icy muddy field, some men slipped spectacularly but the babies were always safe and sound! Meanwhile priests and parents would stand to the side enjoying the spectacle! The festival was concluded by a massive mud brawl, but I’ll post those pictures later. The festival is called Waradbi Hadaka Matsuri, or the Warabi Naked Festival (和良比裸祭り). Another name is the Doronko Matsuri (どろんこ祭り). Enjoy!



















17 Responses

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  1. Emily Cannell said, on February 26, 2013 at 5:43 am

    Absolutely precious pics TB. I wish mine had turned out so good. You must have been hiding in the crowd. I looked for you but no doubt you were hiding somewhere with the widow maker. These are spectacular and really capture what I thought was a special celebration- not many for Dads!


    • tokyobling said, on March 9, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      Thank you Em! Too bad I didn’t see you there – I must have been distracted by all the great photo ops! (^-^;) If it weren’t for you I wouldn’t have gone, so thank you!


  2. Marie said, on February 26, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Stunning pictures! So refreshing to see “no-gym” (or should I say no steroids?) strong male bodies!


  3. pk1154 said, on February 26, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    As a demonstration of devotion, wading nearly naked in a cold, muddy rice field is quite something.

    I love picture #10 (and the next few following).


    • tokyobling said, on March 9, 2013 at 8:33 pm

      Absolutely…. knocking the ice out, icy water and then a 300m dash to a small fire up on the hill between bouts of baby carrying! Amazing!


  4. amadl said, on February 26, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    I can’t find any words to describe how beautifuL this post is.. :’)


  5. Timi said, on February 26, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Respect for the fathers..taking on this weather along with the water o_o
    And the kids are so cute..they surely gonna have a strong bond with their fathers! 🙂


    • tokyobling said, on March 9, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      Absolutely! (^-^) I would never have been able to survive the stuff they did…


  6. viny said, on March 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Very heartwarming ! thank you for letting us learn about this tradition, that’s really intesresting 🙂


  7. JUURI said, on March 4, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    I love reading about unusual festivals that I didn’t know about before. I’m glad no-one said “child cruelty”! Indeed it’s very moving in a beautiful and symbolic way. And what fantastic photos you took to capture the mood.


    • tokyobling said, on March 9, 2013 at 8:49 pm

      Thank you Juuri! I agree, this is one of these only in Japan moments… (^-^;)


  8. […] Westerners. (Except for Tokyobling who hid among the crowd with his widow maker. See his great pics here) For the Warabi Hadaka Matsuri, local folks gathered to have the babies born the previous year […]


  9. littlewonder2 said, on April 23, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Nice pics. I liked that there was a black and white one in there.

    You said there was three names for the festival. Was the last one Goronko or Doronko? There seemed to be a difference between spellings of English and Japanese…


    • tokyobling said, on April 24, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      Thank you! I think Doronko is one of the accepted names for this festival, some people would say Goronko I guess, it is possible, but I have never heard it. (^-^;) But now that I double check my post I see that I had misspelt it! I just fixed it. Sorry for the confusion… (^-^;)


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