Braving the cold to cleanse the soul

These men managed to keep their cool even while submerged in an icy cold bath during a Shinto ritual at the Teppozu Inari Shrine in Tokyo yesterday.

Wearing just loincloths or thin, white robes, about 100 men and women of all ages took part in the ritual, which is meant to purify the soul and to wish for good health in the New Year, reported Reuters.

The annual event, now in its 61st year, is held on the second Sunday of each year.

Said Mr Tomio Hashimoto, who took part in the ritual for the fourth consecutive year: "I bathe in this ice water every year to dispel evil thoughts."

To prepare themselves for the chilly feat, some participants do stretching exercises before getting into the water.

High school students were also seen clutching large blocks of ice as they stood in a giant tub.

Another 36 participants braved the glacial waters at Kanda Myojin Shinto shrine, also in Tokyo.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2017, with the headline 'Braving the cold to cleanse the soul'. Print Edition | Subscribe