Japanese take ice baths in New Year purification ritual

Thomson Reuters

One hundred and one people in Japan gathered at a Tokyo shrine to wash themselves in an icy bath Sunday, January 8th to purify their souls and wish for good health in the new year.

Dressed in traditional white clothes for the ceremony, the participants, including nine women, jogged around the shrine and did physical exercises to warm up their bodies.

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They then joined in a group chant with media and audiences watching by the side, before entering the freezing water to do another round of chanting.

This annual Shinto ritual, in its 62nd year this time, was held under cloudy skies with temperature nearing 35.6˚ F, which organizers said was one of the coldest day in the past decades.

The event is usually held within a shrine on the second Sunday every year, while this year it was held in a park near the shrine due to its reconstruction.