Japanese pray for good health with ice bath ritual

After a brief warm-up under clear blue skies in 9 degree Celsius (48.2 F) weather, 21 people, men in loincloths and women in white gowns, dipped into the 7 degree Celsius cold bath filled with ice blocks for about a minute.

The 67th annual Shinto ritual at Teppouzu Inari Shrine originally began in 1955, when it was inspired by the former chief priest splashing cold water onto himself to pray for the local community's well-being.

More than 100 people have been participating in the New Year ritual prior to the pandemic, but shrine organizers have scaled-down the event since last year, as part of the COVID-19 infection measures.

The ceremony is held on the second Sunday of January every year.

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