Blindfolded walk to 'paradise'

These blindfolded Japanese women walked on a bridge in a graveyard to rid themselves of worry and misfortune in Tateyama city, in Japan's Toyama prefecture, on Sunday.

The "Purification Ceremony on the Cloth Bridge", or Nunobashi Kanjoe ceremony, is held every three years, and is open only to women and Buddhist priests.

A legend from the Edo period (1603-1868) states that climbing Tateyama, or Mount Tate, long considered one of Japan's holiest mountains, would lead a person to paradise, but tradition at the time declared the climb forbidden to women.

Hence, this ritual was devised as a way for women to also reach paradise - and clear their mind of worries in the process.

During the ceremony, women are dressed in white sacred clothes and blindfolded before being led across a red bridge, which symbolises the passage to the other world.

It was later abolished as part of the anti-Buddhist movement of the Meiji period (1868-1912).

The ceremony was revived in the 1990s after not having been practised for 134 years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2017, with the headline 'Blindfolded walk to 'paradise''. Print Edition | Subscribe