Running of the transvestites? Men run in makeup and women's clothing in weird Japanese festival

At a strange festival in central Japan today (February 24), men dressed in women's clothing and ran around town to chase away evil spirits.

Footage from the event shows men in women’s kimonos and traditional makeup, posing for a group photo, drinking some ceremonial sake, before running from house to house as part of the Ikazuchi no Daihannya festival in Higashi-Kansai.

Festival volunteers carry six containers from the Shinzoin Temple around the neighbourhood to chase away evil spirits. 

One participant, a non-native Japanese man, was asked about the event and commented: "[A local group of dads] has a group participating in this event, so I put my hand up to dress up as a woman and run around the streets - I thought it might be a bit of fun."

The exact origins of this annual event are disputed, but the legend tells the priest of Shinzoin Temple visited house to house to prevent the spread of cholera during the late Edo era.

Another legend of a man who lived in the neighborhood dressed in women’s kimono to scare away the bad spirits for his sister who was suffering from tuberculosis.