Japanese worshippers adopt facemasks for festival where they walk through FIRE 


Japanese worshippers have prayed for the safety of themselves and their families by walking barefoot with Buddhist monks over smouldering coals at an annual festival near Mt. Takaosan.

The fire-walking today 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. Last year, it wasn’t open to the public because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A Buddhist monk wearing a protective mask, amid the Covid-19 outbreak, carries a child as he walks across smoldering hot ground at the fire-walking festival, called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese, at Mt.Takao in Tokyo, Japan

Buddhist monks and visitors wearing protective masks, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, look at a bonfireat the fire-walking festival, called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese, at Mt.Takao in Tokyo, Japan, March 14

Buddhist monks and visitors wearing protective masks, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, look at a bonfireat the fire-walking festival, called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese, at Mt.Takao in Tokyo, Japan, March 14

A Buddhist monk walks across smoldering hot ground at the fire-walking festival, called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese, at Mt.Takao

A Buddhist monk walks across smoldering hot ground at the fire-walking festival, called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese, at Mt.Takao

‘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, called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese, has a history of about 50 years at Mt. Takaosan. 

A womaN walks across smoldering hot ground at the fire-walking festival on Sunday

A womaN walks across smoldering hot ground at the fire-walking festival on Sunday 

A woman wearing a protective mask, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, carries her baby as she walks across smoldering hot ground at the fire-walking festival, called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese, at Mt.Takao in Tokyo, Japan, March 14

A woman wearing a protective mask, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, carries her baby as she walks across smoldering hot ground at the fire-walking festival, called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese, at Mt.Takao in Tokyo, Japan, March 14

Visitors wearing protective masks, amid the coronavirus outbreak, look at the fire-walking festival, called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese, at Mt.Takao in Tokyo, Japan, March 14

Visitors wearing protective masks, amid the coronavirus outbreak, look at the fire-walking festival, called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese, at Mt.Takao in Tokyo, Japan, March 14

A woman wearing protective masks, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, walks across smoldering hot ground at the fire-walking festival, called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese, at Mt.Takao in Tokyo, Japan, March 14

A woman wearing protective masks, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, walks across smoldering hot ground at the fire-walking festival, called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese, at Mt.Takao in Tokyo, Japan, March 14

Buddhist monks and visitors wearing protective masks, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, look at a bonfireat the fire-walking festival, called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese, at Mt.Takao in Tokyo, Japan, March 14

Buddhist monks and visitors wearing protective masks, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, look at a bonfireat the fire-walking festival, called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese, at Mt.Takao in Tokyo, Japan, March 14

The monks set fire to wood and Japanese cypress leaves, creating an intense bonfire. The monks then doused the flames with water, collected the embers and laid them out in two strips, over which they walked barefoot while chanting. 

Worshippers followed the monks, wearing masks due to the coronavirus. Some monks carried small children over the embers as dark smoke billowed into the air.

Tokyo is preparing to host the Summer Olympics this year, delayed from 2020 because of the coronavirus, with domestic opinion polls showing people favour limiting the number of spectators at the games. 

The monks set fire to wood and Japanese cypress leaves, creating an intense bonfire. The monks then doused the flames with water, collected the embers and laid them out in two strips, over which they walked barefoot while chanting.

The monks set fire to wood and Japanese cypress leaves, creating an intense bonfire. The monks then doused the flames with water, collected the embers and laid them out in two strips, over which they walked barefoot while chanting. 

A Buddhist monk wearing a protective mask, amid the Covid-19 outbreak, carries a child as he walks across smoldering hot ground at the fire-walking festival

A Buddhist monk wearing a protective mask, amid the Covid-19 outbreak, carries a child as he walks across smoldering hot ground at the fire-walking festival

'Coronavirus infections are spreading globally, so I prayed that it doesn't spread any further,' said Eriko Nakamura, 46, as Buddhist monks chanted in the background

‘Coronavirus infections are spreading globally, so I prayed that it doesn’t spread any further,’ said Eriko Nakamura, 46, as Buddhist monks chanted in the background 

Worshippers followed the monks, wearing masks due to the coronavirus. Some monks carried small children over the embers as dark smoke billowed into the air

Worshippers followed the monks, wearing masks due to the coronavirus. Some monks carried small children over the embers as dark smoke billowed into the air

‘Coronavirus infections are spreading globally, so I prayed that it doesn’t spread any further,’ said Eriko Nakamura, 46, as Buddhist monks chanted in the background. 

‘The fire-walking event is held outside and there are restrictions on the number of participants. When it comes to the Olympics, it will be held indoors, so I hope they can limit the number of spectators by half.’

The number of coronavirus cases in Japan is relatively low compared to other countries such as the United States, although some areas including Tokyo are still under a state of emergency, with the country experiencing a third wave of the pandemic.

A woman and a girl wearing protective mask, amid the Covid-19 outbreak, walk across smoldering hot ground at the fire-walking festival, called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese, at Mt.Takao in Tokyo, Japan, March 14

A woman and a girl wearing protective mask, amid the Covid-19 outbreak, walk across smoldering hot ground at the fire-walking festival, called hiwatari matsuri in Japanese, at Mt.Takao in Tokyo, Japan, March 14



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