December 21, 2013

The Blessed Man

Photograph by Yosuke Kashiwakura

This Month in Photo of the Day: National Geographic Photo Contest Images

The Saidai-ji Eyo festival, considered one of the three strangest festivals in Japan, is a Buddhist ritual in which 9,000 men compete to grab just a pair of sacred wooden batons to decide who will be the "blessed man" for the year. The over 500-year-old tradition of Eyo is based on an underlying understanding of the state of human life, greater than the ideals and trends of a single generation, and this idea has been cherished and passed down through the centuries.

(This photo and caption were submitted to the 2013 National Geographic Photo Contest.)


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21 comments
Aaaa Bbbb
Aaaa Bbbb

What a fantastic shot!... I couldn't realize at first glance!... Like bushwood but not !.. Congratulations Yosuke Kashiwakura!...


Shannon T
Shannon T

I can't tell what I'm looking at.

George Evans
George Evans

I found the photograph a bit depressing and confusing............not to my taste.

Barbara West
Barbara West

With the explanation I now know what it is. All I really see now is a man who appears to be trying to save himself from being crushed.  Perhaps I am glad I can't make out the rest of the seething mass.

jerry wexler
jerry wexler

My first impression was weeds under a boardwalk. Now that it has been explained it looks like "weeds under a boardwalk".

Joy Saldanha
Joy Saldanha

My first impression was of an old painting,defused but still a 'wow' factor. Now I see and know just what it is, thanks to Lawrence Sibley . Great photography as is with all shots I have seen so far. 

Denis C.
Denis C.

Maybe since this is a site that is dedicated to "geography" it would be a good idea to indicate the location which is Okayama. That being said, I must add that I don't get that photo to much. 

Lawrence Sibley
Lawrence Sibley

At midnight, the Saidai-ji Temple is plunged into darkness, and 9,000 men in loin cloths struggle to take possession of the pair of 20 cm sacred wooden batons.  He who prevails is blessed with a year of happiness, prosperity and fertility.   This strange ritual has endured for half a millennia.


The festival doesn't take place on the winter solstice, but today is the beginning of the seasonal cycle of winter - marking the moment when the autumnal descent into darkness begins to reverse, with the promise inherent in that of the return of nature's life force.   It's a time to contemplate the spiritual foundations of our existence.


In this profound image, the mass of humanity struggles in darkness and chaos, but a circle of light is emerging in their midst.  In the heart of each individual, the wish to be blessed burns like a flame in the darkness.  

Charles Spencer
Charles Spencer

Then you're not alone; I can't either.  Is this time lapse?  It looks like the lowest level of an abandoned parking garage.  Seriously, is this even the right photo for the caption?

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