Hundreds of followers of the Shinto religion braved near-freezing temperatures to take part in the annual cold water endurance festival in Tokyo, Japan.
Participants, known as shrine parishioners, gathered to perform ritualistic dances together and throw cold water over another during the annual festival in the wealthy Chiyoda area of the city.
Worshippers dressed in white loincloths and headbands used wooden pots to collect water from deep troughs.
Using wooden pots they splashed one another with the near-freezing liquid in an attempt to purify their souls
Hundreds took part in the annual celebration in which shrine parishioners pay tribute to Daikoku, the deity of fortune
The two-day festival is seen as a coming of age event for both men and women and is held annually on January 13. On that day parishioners pay tribute to Daikoku, the deity of fortune.
Although primarily for 20-year-olds, the ceremony is now undertaken by people of all ages.
During January, temperatures in the Japanese capital can drop to freezing – and the shocked looks on the worshipper’s faces clearly illustrate that.
Followers of Shintoism believe the ritual – known as Kanda Myojin – can cleanse the spirit.
Men and women Shintoists take part in ritualistic group dance in preparation for the ceremony
A group of brave Shinto men rush towards the water troughs with looks of foreboding on their faces
Two men in the midst of the cold water ritual cry out as they are hit by the icy liquid
After being drenched in bitterly cold water followers queue, shivering, in front of the site’s central shrine and offer their prayers.
Kanda Shrine was an important religious site to both the elite warrior class and citizens of Japan during the Edo period that stretched from 1603 to 1868.
The festival is not the only holy event to happen at Kanda Shrine. Kanda Mitsuri, one of the three major Shinto festivals of Tokyo, also occurs within its walls.
First held in 1600 by warlord Tokygawa to celebrate a decisive victory, the yearly event is now an excuse to celebrate.
Another Shinto festival, the Kanchu Misogi, in which worshippers hug giant blocks of ice, is also designed to cleanse the spirit and takes place across Japan.
Four women take the plunge wearing pristine white robes tied at their waists
From the looks of their faces, some of the women are faring better than others
Five Shinto worshipers crouch serenely in one of the cold water troughs during the two-day festival at Kanda Shrine
One man goes all in, pouring a whole wooden pot of bitterly cold water directly on to his head
A group of men pause before they enter the cold water trough. Spectators look on smiling and taking photos