Young priests brave ice-cold water ritual

NHK -- Jan 21
Young Shinto priests in loincloths have poured icy water on themselves in a traditional ritual of purification to pray for safety throughout the year.

The annual ritual called Daikan Misogi is held on the coldest time of the year, based on a traditional lunisolar calendar dividing the solar year into 24 terms. This year, the occasion fell on Wednesday.

Six priests took part in the ritual at Hiyoshi Shrine in Akita City, northern Japan, when the temperature outside was minus 2.6 degrees Celsius at 6 a.m.

The men first psyched themselves up by performing a Shinto rite called Torifune, in which they shouted and moved their arms in a rowing motion again and again.

They then repeatedly threw buckets of water over their shoulders for purification.

Priest Hirohata Tomoyasu says he prayed for an early end to the coronavirus pandemic and a healthy, good year.