For their safety, Japanese worshippers on Sunday walked barefoot with Buddhist monks over blazing coals at an annual festival near Mt. Takaosan.
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.
“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. Takaosan is an important place to pray for deliverance from plagues, so I felt we should hold the festival this year with certain precautions.”
The festival is called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese and has a history of about 50 years at Mt. Takaosan.