An Iwate Prefecture-born university student who won an annual New Year's dash at a shrine here on Jan. 10, wants to share the traditional "year of good luck" with the tsunami-stricken Tohoku area.
At the annual event at Nishinomiya Shrine, which enshrines the deity of prosperous business, contestants race to be the first to reach the shrine's main structure, with the winner supposed to have a year of good luck.
At around 6 a.m., together with the sound of taiko drums the shrine's Omotedaimon gate opened and around 5,000 participants set off on the dash. The winner was Takashi Suzuki, 21, a student at Senshu University from Kawasaki, who was born in Iwate Prefecture. When Suzuki was a third-year student in junior high school in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, he experienced the tsunami of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
"I want to share this luck with the disaster-hit area," he said smiling.
He added, "Just as Nishinomiya recovered from the Great Hanshin Earthquake (in 1995), I hope that Ofunato returns to how it used to be."