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Japanese worshippers prayed for the safety of themselves and their families by walking barefoot with Buddhist monks over smouldering coals at an annual festival near Mt. Takaosan.
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A Buddhist monk wearing a protective mask carries a child as he walks across smouldering coals at the fire-walking festival, called hiwatari matsuri, in Japanese, at Mt.Takao in Tokyo, Japan, March 14, 2021.
The fire-walking was more tense than usual because participants were required to wear masks and maintain social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic. The festival was also limited to 1,000 participants.
Buddhist monks spread embers in a bonfire. "Passing your body through the flames cleanses your soul and delivers your prayers to Buddha," said Koshou Kamimura, a Buddhist monk from Takaosan Yakuouin Temple. "Historically, Mt.
The festival, called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese, has a history of about 50 years at Mt. Takaosan. The monks set fire to wood and Japanese cypress leaves, creating an intense bonfire.
Worshippers followed the monks, wearing masks due to the coronavirus. Some monks carried small children over the embers as dark smoke billowed into the air. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Tokyo is preparing to host the Summer Olympics this year, delayed from 2020 because of the coronavirus, with domestic opinion polls showing people favour limiting the number of spectators at the games.
Buddhist monks splash water and spread embers on a bonfire. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon