Thursday, July 21, 2005

Say Cheese!

Just stopping by to post some pictures from a summer festival in Fukuoka. A friend and I spent the weekend there recently and happened upon this little gem. On the drive to the hotel, traffic stopped so that several hundred naked guys could cross the street together. (Both of us having been in Japan for three years now, we just stopped the car and waited in silence while all the naked people ran by. Nothing is unusual anymore.) They were chanting and holding lanterns, and we spotted them each day of the trip. It's something about men from all the cho's (neighborhoods) in the area drinking sake and running through the streets half naked every day for a week, which is all practice leading up to a race where the members of each cho race against each other through the city streets, while holding a beautifully decorated 1,000 pound Japanese float. It is a very old tradition (hello, everything is in Japan) and it originally had something to do with different types of merchants getting together and competing against each other. Now I think it's pretty much about the sake. At one point, my friend and I were shopping (in the best chocolate shop in the world, appropriately named, "The Chocolate Shop") and we spotted the naked men again outside the store. We got our cameras and raced out to see them, and watched for at least ten minutes, just dumbfounded. He finally broke the silence by saying, "It would take a lot of sake..." Indeed.

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