It’s winter in January in Japan and there are low temperatures in many places. Would anyone dare to take a cold shower in the morning? I bet you would not! But there are some strong fellows risking weather and running (almost) naked while cold water is flung onto them. What is all this craziness?
Doya Doya Matsuri or simple Doya Doya is a unique festival that happens on 14th of January in the Japanese city of Osaka. It marks the end of the Buddhist tradition of a 14-day worship that starts from the New Year. The venue is the famous Shitennoji temple which is the first Buddhist temple in Japan according to old records. It has been rebuilt over centuries and is a stronghold for Buddhist faith in the country.
During the festival, young men from different high schools in the area form groups and gather near the temple. They rush into the temple almost naked with their fudonshi (a traditional Japanese undergarment for men). The priests of the temple throw cold water at them while they are running. Despite the cold weather and the water being thrown on them, they run with smiles on their faces. They get inside the temple and paper charms are fluttered from the ceiling. Those who can grab the paper charms are deemed victorious. This continues for the whole day depending on the number of groups or individuals participating in the event.
Prince Shotoku was the person who built the temple around 593 A.D. He is revered as one of the greatest rulers in Japanese history and as the founder of Japanese Buddhism. He was attracted to Buddhism at a very young age and popularized it across the country. There are a number of institutions including universities, hospitals etc that are named after him. Moreover, there are plenty of historical sites related to him. His life stories and teachings are an inspiration for many festivals happening in Japan under the Buddhist faith.
People usually shout victory slogans while they participate in such events and ‘Doya Doya’ is one of those cries uttered by the young men participating in this festival in Osaka.
So, what are you waiting for? Go the Shitennoji temple in Osaka on Jan 14th and see the festivities. It is a fun and energetic event for sure.