Thousands dash to become the luckiest man of the year in Japan

Thousands of men and women made a chaotic dash through the grounds of a shrine in Japan on Tuesday, January 10th to win the annual "Lucky Man Run."

Nishinomiya Shinto shrine in western Japan's Hyogo Prefecture is dedicated to the god of Ebisu, a patron of businessmen and merchants, and the winner of the race is believed to be bestowed with a year's worth of good luck.

At exactly 6 a.m., the Taiko drum beat the start the famous annual frenzy that drew in nearly 5,000 people, according to the organizers.

A university student from Tokyo area, 21-year-old Takashi Suzuki clinched the first place in the short 754 feet race through the shrine courtyard. Two Hyogo locals, 24-year-old Ryo Watabe and 16-year-old Haruyuki Ono, followed him to become the top three to be honored.

Suzuki was lucky even before the race begin as he got the advantageous pole position close to the giant red doors in a lottery draw.

The winners were blessed by a priest in a Shinto ritual and were offered a full year of good luck. They were also bestowed a barrel of Japanese Sake rice wine, which they promptly shared with others.

Shrine officials say that it was in the 14th century that locals started hurrying to the shrine on this day, sacred to its patron god, to be the first one to offer prayers.

The rush eventually turned into a race as people tried to outrun each other and the shrine officially started recognizing the winner of this race as the year's lucky man or woman.