Thousands of semi-nude men braved the cold near the northern Japanese city of Oshu on Monday to mark the annual Hadaka Matsuri ('Naked Man' Festival) which ends with the participants stepping into freezing mountain waters.

Young men with nothing but a loin-cloth (fundoshi) to protect their modesty flocked to Kokusekiji Temple and fought each other for the 'Somin Bukuro' bag, while shouting the ancient battle cry "Wasshoi!"

During the traditional ritual, half-naked men have to step into freezing waters and win the 'Somin Bukuro' bag, a task which will grant them the honourable title of the 'lucky man.'

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