NISHINOMIYA (REUTERS) - Thousands of men and women raced through the grounds of a Shinto shrine in west Japan early on Tuesday (Jan 10) in the annual "Lucky Man Run", which some believe bestows a year's worth of good fortune on the winner.
Harking back to a tradition started in the 14th century when locals hurried to the Nishinomiya shrine in Hyogo Prefecture on this day to offer prayers for prosperity, the race's victor is recognised by priests as the year's "lucky" man or woman.
Mr Takashi Suzuki, 21, a university student from Tokyo, was the recipient of this promise of favourable fortune for 2017 when he won the 230-m dash through the shrine's courtyard, boosted by gaining a position close to the giant red doors of the shrine compound in a lottery draw.
Mr Suzuki and two Hyogo locals, who took second and third place, were blessed by a priest in a Shinto ritual and presented with a barrel of sake, which they promptly cracked open to share with the crowd.
About 5,000 people took part in the frenzied sprint this year, according to organisers.