Visitors at a Buddhist temple in western Japan marked a time-honored tradition by soaking themselves in cold water in a ritual aimed at toughening the body and soul.
Monday is "daikan" in the traditional Japanese calendar, which means the coldest time of the year. About 10 people braved the chilly temperatures by soaking themselves in frigid water.
The ritual, known as takigyo, is performed every year at the Daishiji Temple in Matsuyama City. Water from a nearby river is drawn to the temple garden to create waterfalls.
Men wore loincloths and women donned white kimono while standing beneath a 3-meter-high waterfall.
They chanted a sutra as they stood under the icy water that made their bodies shake violently.
A woman who took part in the ritual for the first time said she wanted to see how hard it was. She said the water was extremely cold but she felt refreshed, adding that she would do it again next year.
A resident of the city said the ritual was a form of spiritual training and he prayed for his family's health.