Japan, Aichi Prefecture, Nishio City – Kimono-clad men found an extreme way to stay warm in the chilly weather: by battling blazing 5-meter-tall torches to retrieve sacred objects within.
The “suzumi” torches were lit shortly after 8 p.m. during the Toba no Himatsuri fire festival held at Toba Shinmeisha shrine here on Feb. 10.
The daredevils, whose bodies were soaked in water, stood at the top of ladders and clawed their way through the burning straw and wood to recover deity branches embedded inside the suzumi.
How the suzumi burned was then “read” in a fortunetelling to predict the weather and harvest for the year.
The annual fire festival dates back about 1,200 years and was designated an important intangible folk cultural property by the government in 2004.
Source: The Asahi Shimbun