Splish splash

Shrine parishioners using wooden tubs splash cold water on themselves during an annual cold-endurance festival at the Kanda Myojin Shinto shrine in Tokyo on Saturday. Pouring cold water on their bodies is believed to purify their souls.

  • 4

    avigator

    Then straight to the onsen.

  • -6

    Serrano

    Pouring cold water on your body may make your teeth chatter but I doubt it will purify your soul.

  • -10

    Frungy

    SerranoJan. 12, 2014 - 09:08AM JST Pouring cold water on your body may make your teeth chatter but I doubt it will purify your soul.

    Or it could induce hypothermia and kill you. ... I'll pass thanks.

  • -8

    Cortes Elijah

    Looks kind of stupid. Clear your soul? I think I will pass.

  • 0

    gaijinfo

    I guess if you were going to "cleanse your soul" this would be a quick and easy way to do it.

    Certainly better than spending a few million years in purgatory.

  • 2

    Jimizo

    I'm quite happy to be impure

  • 0

    knowitall

    They do this in Nagano too.

    At night.

    In the snow.

    If they guys in toasty Tokyo become pure, I wander what they become in Nagano where it is like minus 15 degrees.

  • 0

    7solace9

    Reminds me of mornings at 5 a.m., clear or snow. The employer in China has yet to provide me with an apartment that has useable hot water (non existent or rusted). The cold can feel mentally cleansing, but one has to keep it off the eyeballs as much as possible or push blood to the head hard. And, it does not clean the body as well as hot water does. Standing for long in a pool of water like the J-guys are seems a little more intense than using a shower though. Go penguins.

  • 3

    smithinjapan

    Good old fun. I've been polar diving before, and as long as there are people monitoring and there are safety precautions then nothing should go wrong. Not sure about purifying the soul, but makes you feel like you are jumping out of your skin.

  • 2

    Maria

    People in many northern nations enjoy this kind of dip in icy waters to no ill effect. When I regularly went to sento, I built up quite an endurance to going into the cold pool - this can feel very invigorating, and will certainly clear your head and get your circulation going!

  • -5

    Frungy

    People in many northern nations enjoy this kind of dip in icy waters to no ill effect.

    No. Going from a sauna for a quick roll in the snow back into a sauna is completely different from bathing in sub-zero water with no adequate warming facilities afterwards in the middle of winter. You're comparing chalk and cheese and trying to say they're the same... they're not. Sauna to snow to sauna is safe. Bathing in icy water to a damp towel in the middle of winter is unsafe and risks serious health consequences and even death.

  • 2

    Maria

    What happens to parishioners like these young men in the photo after they're done pouring cold water on themselves? Are they forced to trudge home as is, soaking wet, without even a warming drink?

    No comparisons between this act and anything that happens in other countries can be found, then?

  • 2

    zichi

    I'm sort of happy that I don't have a soul so I won't be in need of this cleaning treatment, although when taking a very hot sauna I do enjoy the rush of jumping into a ice cold pool?

  • -4

    Knox Harrington

    Purify their souls, huh? These boys already look pretty "pure", so to speak. Doubt they need to become purer. Perhaps they have dirty thoughts.

  • 3

    tobolski

    Symbolism, folks.

  • 2

    House Atreides

    Pouring cold water on their bodies is believed to purify their souls.

    Not as immersed as winter swimming but there are also health benefits associated with short term exposure of the body to cold water.

    There are indications that winter swimmers do not contract diseases as often as the general population. The incidence of infectious diseases affecting the upper respiratory tract is 40% lower among winter swimmers when compared to a control group. Short term exposure of the whole body to cold water produces oxidative stress, which makes winter swimmers develop improved antioxidative protection.

    http://qjmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/92/4/193

  • 0

    FightingViking

    I believe it makes one tougher... I'm pretty tough and I believe it's because when I was a student France, the "maid's room" I occupied had no shower but there were four stalls at the students disposition "down the hall" - no lights and no hot water... Pretty "impressive" at first - icy cold water in a dark stall but I soon got used to it and in fact, in winter I felt it actually warmed me up !

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