To celebrate the New Year and also to purify their souls, Japanese people bathe in icy water. Esa is a celebration that takes place every year in the country’s capital, Tokyo.
But, it’s not just about getting in the water. There is a brief warm-up that must be performed which is accompanied by physical exercises and chants. Afterwards, participants soaked in a bathtub filled with cold water and large blocks of ice, wishing them good health for the new year.
Find out more about this event of Japanese culture and how and when it takes place here.
Japanese bathe in icy water and purify themselves for the coming year – misogi
Well, as you already noticed, this is an event that happens every beginning of the year in Japan. This practice is known as Misogi and is of Shinto tradition.
Usually, more than a hundred people bravely take turns and get into an ice bath on a cold Sunday morning at Tokyo’s shrine to purify their souls and wish them good health for the new year.
Most participants are typically male and wear traditional loincloths, while a handful of women tend to wear fine white dresses to participate in the annual Shinto ritual at Teppou-zu Inari Shrine.
After some physical warm-up and chanting, participants plunged into a bathtub filled with cold water and large blocks of ice while the media and public watched on the sidelines.
The daytime temperature is usually around 5 degrees celsius. It’s too cold to be outside without a coat, imagine stepping into a tub of icy water.
THE misogi takes place en masse at Teppozu Inari, although it also has its versions elsewhere in the country, and consists of warm-up ‘rowing’ exercises with group singing, following which participants run around the shrine and then soak in hot tubs. ice water containing blocks of ice.
The entire event takes about 30 minutes.
You don’t need to be in Japan to make yours. misogi
However, it is worth noting that the misogi it does not necessarily have to be done in a temple or in Tokyo. It can be done elsewhere.
Every year, many people do peregrinations to waterfalls, lakes and sacred rivers, alone or in small groups, to carry out misogi. Mount Ontake, the Kii Range and Mount Yoshino are just a few examples of ancient and well-known areas for misogi in Japan. In Kyotopeople bathe under the waterfall otowa no taki (Wings Sound) from the Temple of Kiyomizualthough most visitors drink from the waters rather than soak in them.
Outside the country, in the United States, for example, the misogi is held at America’s Great Tsubaki Shrine at the Konryu Myojin no Taki waterfall.