A recent festival in Gunma Prefecture saw resilient male residents don their loincloths and brave the winter temperatures; the hardy bunch intent on continuing a tradition that goes back about 400 years.
As well as wearing only their underwear, the 40 or so members were split into two groups – the red and white teams. Both of which made liberal use of the region’s natural hot spring water, enthusiastically throwing it over their different coloured rivals.
Having no winners or losers, this hurling of warm water rather bizarrely seems to be all there is to it, although the proceedings are enlivened somewhat by the shivery shouts of the participants. A vocal accompaniment that appears to be compulsory, with cries along the lines of, “Are you sure my bottom doesn’t look big in this?” and, “Honestly ladies, it’s only because of the cold” helping to entertain any bemused onlookers.