Women take part in Japan’s 1,250-year-old ‘naked festival’ for first time

Women take part in Japan's 1,250-year-old 'naked festival' for first time

Naruhito Tsunoda, a priest at the shrine, said there had never been a ban on women participating, and some had even made small offerings as individuals before. However, when a women’s group inquired last year if they could join, saying ‘yes’ was easy.

“I believe the most important thing is for there to be a fun festival for everyone. I think God would be happiest about that too,” he said.

The women did not join the festival’s main event where a large group of men clash together to drive away evil spirits. Tsunoda said it would be difficult to open up that part of the festival to women due to the physical aspect.

Japan’s government last year said it would push to improve women’s participation in society, after an annual report showed the country was struggling to narrow the gender gap.

The World Economic Forum report measuring gender parity ranked Japan 125th out of 146 countries in 2023, down from 116th in 2022.