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Photo: Men's festival

Needle in a Haystack

Battling it out in a temple in Okayama, Japan, just after World War II, thousands of men grappled to locate a pair of sacred scented batons—in the dark. This celebration of the lunar New Year, called hadaka matsuri, or naked men’s festival, dates back 500 years and continues today. The masculine melee would start about midnight and continue for hours. The victor’s reward? Happiness for the rest of the year.

Photograph by Horace Bristol, Jr., 1946
From 100 Best Vintage Photographs, 2004


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