Definitely one of the strangest festivals you can find on this beautiful planet! The Naked festival or Hadaka Matsuri is celebrated nationwide and every region, city, and village has its own specificities. However, the major similarity is that each of the festivals involves almost naked men roaming the streets throughout the whole day.
The central character of the event is the man called 'shi-otoko,' who in order to purify himself diets on rice and hot water and shaves all his hair off (apart from eyebrows). Closer to the evening he mingles among the participants who try their best to catch and touch him, since it is believed that he can absorb all your problems. At midnight, he goes to the shrine where he prays for the problems and bad luck to go away.
For those of you who are not particularly interested in naked people floating around, there are plenty of food stalls and different activities available throughout the day as well. This festival is celebrated throughout Japan during the cold of winter.
One of the most well-known matsuri takes place Saidai-ji Temple in February in the Okayama. Traditionally, Saidai-ji matsuri occurs on the third Saturday in February. About 9,000 almost naked men parade through the city. After being "purified" with cold water, the gather in Saidai-ji temple where at 10 pm a Shinto priest throws two sacred sticks ('shingi') and a hundred other lucky ones into the crowd of men. It's quite of a sight to see all these men wrestling with each other to get the sacred sticks. All this struggle is to catch good luck for the upcoming year.
Another popular hadaka matsuri takes place in Konomiya town that is believed to be a place where shin-otoko tradition started back in 767. The legend has it that one man was chosen to be a scapegoat to stop plague in the village, and it has been practised every year ever since. As nudity is believed to dry evil away, the poor man has to walk naked on a freezing day being followed by a crowd of men. Head to Owari-Okunitama Shrine to witness the Konomiya Hadaka Matsuri.