Tokyobling's Blog

Misogigamankai – Purification at Kanda Shrine

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on January 13, 2014

Each year on the 11th of January a ceremony called the Misogigamankai (寒中禊がまん会) takes place in some shrines in the colder parts of Japan. It is a shinto ceremony to purify the minds and bodies of the people brave enough to take part who becomes representatives of their country during the ceremony. The purification ceremony is meant to ward of natural disasters and to show the endurance of the people and the land together. In Tokyo one of the very few shrines to have this ceremony is the Kanda Myojin in Tokyo’s Sotokanda district, just between Akihabara and Ochanomizu stations. This year about 48 men and women from 19 to 54 took part in the ceremony which was one hour long in the clear, bitingly cold and windy Tokyo winter.

The participants start by gathering in front of the shrine where they chant purification prayers together with the priest, as opposed to normally where you just listen to the priest. Wearing as little clothes as possible they then run one lap around the shrine while chanting before gathering in front of the cold spring water where a tent has been set up to keep them out of the sun. There they sing before lining up and take turn plunging themselves into the cold water, which by the way has large chunks of ice in it. All participants do two rounds into the water and some opt for a third. The whole ceremony is over after an hour and I can only imagine the pain they must feel!

There were dozens of photographers, lots of media and many people gathered so it was really difficult to get good photos of the event but I did my best with the little space I had between the onlookers and the ceremony. I will post more photos and information about the ceremony later this week!















9 Responses

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  1. Dina Farmer said, on January 13, 2014 at 5:36 am

    Wow! So cold., I think there are ceremonies like this one all over the world. Amazing!


  2. Charly Senall said, on January 13, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    For anyone interested in Japanese culture is a great pleasure to follow your posts. Magnificent series.


  3. lovelycomplex22 said, on January 13, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Love the 7th picture!


    • tokyobling said, on January 29, 2014 at 4:48 am

      Thank you! (^-^)/ That man had a lot more kiai in his little finger than I had in my whole body that day!


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