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Teppozu Inari Shrine, near Hatchobori Station on the Hibiya subway line.
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In front of the shrine were two large tubs of freezing-cold water with a few large blocks of ice await. The Kanchu Suiyoku (Mid-winter Cold Water Bath) is held on the second Sunday of Jan.
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The men (and one woman) about to take a dip standby in this shrine meeting hall.
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First the shrine priest came out.
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The shrine priest was followed by some 15 or so people ready for their freezin-cold water ablution bath.
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First they give a few prayers led by the shrine priest.
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Then the shrine priest, who was in his 80s, started some warm-up exercises.
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Everyone followed the priest's lead.
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In 2007, the water tub was replaced with a much larger pool able to fit 60 people. But I like this smaller tub.
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There were no musicians on stage like they have now. It was a pretty quiet ritual, and the crowd was quite small.
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Then they ran around the shrine.
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The shrine priest was then the first to enter the bath.
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Without flinching, he took a dip. This is quite tame compared to what he does every Feb: Swim in the icy Sea of Okhotsk off Abashiri, Hokkaido.
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The shrine priest is Nakagawa Masamitsu, still looking youthful in his 80s. This freezing water bath event started at a health club in Ichikawa, Chiba in 1956. But 4 years later, it could not be held any longer so it moved here.
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The rest of the people also jump in the tub.
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The shrine priest had charisma and spunk.
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For about 5-10 min. they all sat in the frigid water and chanted while praying. They prayed for good health for themselves and their families.
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Cold-water ablutions is not unusual in ascetic Buddhism, but to see it at a Shinto shrine is unusual.
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These photos were taken in the 1997.
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The man on the lower right kept hugging this big block of ice.
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This was the second time I saw this, and each time there was one woman.
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To this man, ice water is a healthy thing. I know I would never do this.
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The man is still hugging his ice.
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This shrine priest does not appear in recent photos of this ritual, so he might have passed away. This festival won't be the same without him.
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The priest is all smiles after the bath.
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It was all over after about 30 min. See the shrine's office site here.
     
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