Japanese take ice baths in New Year purification ritual

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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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New Year ice bath purification ritual in Japan
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New Year ice bath purification ritual in Japan

Men wearing loin cloths hold on to ice as they bathe in ice-cold water outside the Teppozu Inari shrine in Tokyo, Japan, January 8, 2017. According to organizers, about 100 participants took part in the Shinto ceremony to purify their souls and wish for good health in the new year.

(REUTERS/Toru Hanai )

Men wearing the traditional "fundoshi" or loin cloth warm up before bathing in ice-cold water outside the Teppozu Inari shrine in Tokyo, Japan, January 8, 2017. According to organizers, about 100 participants took part in the Shinto ceremony to purify their souls and wish for good health in the new year.

 (REUTERS/Toru Hanai )

People wearing loin cloths pray as they bathe in ice-cold water outside the Teppozu Inari shrine in Tokyo, Japan, January 8, 2017. According to organizers, about 100 participants took part in the Shinto ceremony to purify their souls and wish for good health in the new year.

(REUTERS/Toru Hanai )

A man wearing the traditional "fundoshi" or loin cloth prays as he bathes in ice-cold water outside the Teppozu Inari shrine in Tokyo, Japan, January 8, 2017. According to organizers, about 100 participants took part in the Shinto ceremony to purify their souls and wish for good health in the new year. 

(REUTERS/Toru Hanai )

People wearing loin cloths pray as they bathe in ice-cold water outside the Teppozu Inari shrine in Tokyo, Japan, January 8, 2017. According to organizers, about 100 participants took part in the Shinto ceremony to purify their souls and wish for good health in the new year. 

(REUTERS/Toru Hanai )

Shinto believers of the Teppozu Inari Shrine bath in cold water to purify their souls and bodies during a New Year event in Tokyo on January 8, 2017. Some 100 Shinto believers took part in the annual new year purification event.

(TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

Shinto believers of the Teppozu Inari Shrine pray as they bath in cold water to purify their souls and bodies during a New Year event in Tokyo on January 8, 2017. Some 100 Shinto believers took part in the annual new year purification event.

(TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

Men wearing loin cloths hold on to ice as they bathe in ice-cold water outside the Teppozu Inari shrine in Tokyo, Japan, January 8, 2017. According to organizers, about 100 participants took part in the Shinto ceremony to purify their souls and wish for good health in the new year.

(REUTERS/Toru Hanai)

Men wearing the traditional "fundoshi" or loin cloth run to warm up before bathing in ice-cold water outside the Teppozu Inari shrine in Tokyo, Japan, January 8, 2017. According to organizers, about 100 participants took part in the Shinto ceremony to purify their souls and wish for good health in the new year.

(REUTERS/Toru Hanai)

Shinto believers of the Teppozu Irani Shrine make noises during warm-up before bathing in cold water to purify their souls and bodies during a New Year event in Tokyo on January 8, 2017. Some 100 Shinto believers took part in the annual new year purification event.

(TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

Shinto believers of the Teppozu Inari Shrine bath in cold water to purify their souls and bodies during a New Year event in Tokyo on January 8, 2017. Some 100 Shinto believers took part in the annual new year purification event.

(TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

Shinto believers of the Teppozu Irani Shrine make noises during warm-up before bathing in cold water to purify their souls and bodies during a New Year event in Tokyo on January 8, 2017. Some 100 Shinto believers took part in the annual new year purification event.

(TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

Shinto believers of the Teppozu Inari Shrine bath in cold water to purify their souls and bodies during a New Year event in Tokyo on January 8, 2017. Some 100 Shinto believers took part in the annual new year purification event.

(TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

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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.


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