Photographs from the book Naked Festival, 1968
by Tamotsu Yato (矢頭保)
Description of Tamotsu Yato's Naked Festival from Richard Hawkins:
The book portrays, as indicated by its title, traditional men’s festivals of Japan. These festivals have a multiplicity of function: harvest blessings, changes of season and rites of passage into manhood, yet all are marked nationwide by several singular characteristics. They are reserved solely for males (women and girls participate in female-only festivals). Social hierarchies of age are averted by all the participants being of a certain age (this may be practical as well, given the mad crush of some of the events, someone too old or too young might simply get hurt). The social hierachy of class and profession are also eliminated by the unifying dynamic of nakedness; all the participants wear fundoshi, traditional Japanese loincloth. And, lastly, the concentration is never individually competitive, i.e. there is no winner per se at the climax of the event; group exertion and endurance may characterize the goal of these activities best.
Obviously, these festivals would be of interest to a young photographer who has already decided to focus exclusively on three of their fundamental characteristics: naked (1) males (2) of a certain age (3).