Saidai-ji Temple

Saidai-ji Temple, Okayama

Saidai-ji Temple
4
What people are saying
Yuan_MY
By Yuan_MY
Over 500 years old winter festival
Feb 2019
Went to Saidaiji in the morning partly to check the place out before the festival in the evening and also to collect the previously reserved ¥5,000 ring side seat ticket from Saidaiji office of Okayama Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Saidaiji Kannon-in Temple dedicated to Kannon or Goddess of Mercy is not particularly a big complex but was busy that morning. Came back to Saidaiji about 5pm. There were various dance performances to entertain everyone. Then the Eyo Taiko women put on a spectacular show drumming their support for the men. The festivity continued with a display of fireworks on the banks of Yoshii River where people were seen enjoying it while eating the food bought from the rows of food stalls. At about 7.30pm the fundoshi-clad men began entering the grounds yelling WASSHOI WASSHOI and made their way to the purification pool where they purify their bodies before marching over to the main hall. Non-participants were later required to leave the cordoned grounds as more men were entering. It was amazing how much body heat these men generated in the main hall when sprayed water almost instantaneously turned to steam. The festival came to a climax at 10.00pm where thousands of half naked men wrestled and battled for the two prized Shingi (sacred sticks) thrown into them. All was over in about 10 minutes when the two Shingi sticks are brought out of the temple. Totally satistified for having attended Saidaiji Eyo which one of Japan’s three strangest festivals.

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Yuan_MY
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia128 contributions
Over 500 years old winter festival
Feb 2019 • Solo
Went to Saidaiji in the morning partly to check the place out before the festival in the evening and also to collect the previously reserved ¥5,000 ring side seat ticket from Saidaiji office of Okayama Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Saidaiji Kannon-in Temple dedicated to Kannon or Goddess of Mercy is not particularly a big complex but was busy that morning.

Came back to Saidaiji about 5pm. There were various dance performances to entertain everyone. Then the Eyo Taiko women put on a spectacular show drumming their support for the men. The festivity continued with a display of fireworks on the banks of Yoshii River where people were seen enjoying it while eating the food bought from the rows of food stalls.

At about 7.30pm the fundoshi-clad men began entering the grounds yelling WASSHOI WASSHOI and made their way to the purification pool where they purify their bodies before marching over to the main hall. Non-participants were later required to leave the cordoned grounds as more men were entering. It was amazing how much body heat these men generated in the main hall when sprayed water almost instantaneously turned to steam.

The festival came to a climax at 10.00pm where thousands of half naked men wrestled and battled for the two prized Shingi (sacred sticks) thrown into them. All was over in about 10 minutes when the two Shingi sticks are brought out of the temple.

Totally satistified for having attended Saidaiji Eyo which one of Japan’s three strangest festivals.
Written March 2, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Judy C
Brisbane, Australia360 contributions
Peaceful at this time of year
Nov 2015 • Couples
A 20-minute train ride from Okayama station and a kilometre flat walk from Saidaiji station, we found this famous temple almost deserted late morning. It was hard to imagine it thronged with thousands of fundoshi-clad men vying for a couple of sticks during the Festival. We were able to enjoy it in contemplative mood and admire the lovely buildings. There is an elegant Teashop straight across the road from the entrance serving simple meals.
Written November 19, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

trekkingwithbecky
Toronto, Canada86 contributions
The only place for the Naked Man Festival in February!
Feb 2015 • Solo
If you are ever going to Saidaiji, then you have to go to this temple for the Naked Man a Festival on the third Saturday of February! It's about a ten-minute brisk walk from Saidaiji train station.

In the afternoon beginning at around 3:30 is the the festival for elementary school boys, who are divided into three groups - grades 1/2, 3/4, and 5/6. It's really fun to watch, and the seating area in the blue bleachers right in front is free for this part.

Afterwards, there is plenty of time to get the usual, good old matsuri food and treats, including yaki soba, udon, all kinds of meat, and candy and dessert like croissants and chocolate-covered bananas.

You can also enjoy taiko and dancing while more and more groups of men take turns going into the water and running to the temple to get splashed with more water, usually chanting/shouting arm-in-arm. :-)

After all the dancing, you can go into the temple and watch the thousands of men take turns in groups running into the temple chanting and cheering when they get splashed with water from the temple staff high up above. You can get close enough to be right besides them and take pictures, although it won't be easy to get clear shots. You can gave a great time shouting their chants and cheering with them, and of course, wishing them luck and high-fiving them. The event patrol staff eventually kicked out all non-participants when the temple closed for participants only.

Speaking of participants, you can participate if you are male...there was a big, lively international group. :-)

To watch the big battle from the blue bleachers, you have to pay 5,000 yen for a ticket, and it's worth it for the view. Otherwise, there is standing room only and the view isn't nearly as good. At ten, the lights go out and it war begins. The craziness is entertaining and unique.

When it is finished app. 20 minutes later, there are plenty of taxis, extra buses, and extra trains to get home.

Have a blast! :-). Make sure that all of your batteries are fully charged and that you have more than plenty of memory for photos and videos! :-)
Written February 22, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

ChunMiTrecking
Kasaoka, Japan30 contributions
The only place to see the Naked Man Festival!
Feb 2014 • Friends
Every February this temple hosts the naked man festival (saidaiji eyo). There truly is nothing like it anywhere else in Japan. The temple is nestled in a neighborhood, but has several entry points. A lake runs along the outside walls of the temple grounds. There is a stand alone pagoda structure, along with the temple where you can climb the steps and pay your respects (or simply take a bunch of photos). There are also several statues and a golden Buddha littered throughout the grounds and it would be a nice stop on any normal day.

But for this festival, you need to arrive early! Wear a heavy jacket and walking shoes too because it's cold! Bring a camera with plenty of memory because you will be snapping away! I arrived at 4:00 pm and didn't leave until after midnight when the ceremony finished. In the afternoon the food vendors were already setting up, entertainment was going on in front of the temple steps, and participants were gathering in tents throughout town. When the sun sets, there is an extensive fireworks show, so be sure to get a good seat on the banks of the lake. Then grab some food and make your way back to the temple grounds. You can be right in the thick of things as large groups of men (and women) dressed in almost nothing, run through the purification fountain and around the temple chanting.

At some point they stop letting people into the grounds and you have to go to the "safe zone". Finally about an hour or half hour before the start of the ceremony they usher all non-participants outside of the grounds into the "safe zone". At this point men jostle for a place on the temple steps where water is poured from above and things get bloody. There is a constant stream of people heading to the first aid tents on stretchers. The fight for the holy sticks themselves is relatively short and confusing for a first timer like me. By then you might be so cold though, you would be glad it was finally finished. And you would be so happy you made it out to see this unique and purely Japanese ceremony.
Written March 10, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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