This time last year, the Saidaiji Kannon-in temple in Japan’s Okayama prefecture was a writhing ball of flesh.
The Hadaka Matsuri or “Naked Festival” is a hugely popular attraction that sees thousands of men gathering from across the southern part of Honshu Island.
On the third Saturday of February they are invited to strip down to a simple loincloth and join the fray to battle for “holy sticks”. The fertility festival has roots going back almost 1000 years.
In temples across the prefecture there are normally hundreds of such melees at regional temples, drawing up to 10,000 men at a time.