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Walking on fire the focus of Buddhist festival in Tokyo

Buddhist monks set the stage for an annual fire-walking ritual at Mount Takao, Japan, Sunday, March 10, 2019.

MICHELLE S. PRESTON/SPECIAL TO STARS AND STRIPES

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 14, 2019

MOUNT TAKAO, Japan — Families stationed at U.S. military bases in the Tokyo area were among the thousands of visitors to turn out for an annual fire-walking festival near Yokota Air Base.

The highlight of Hiwatari Matsuri, held the second Sunday of each March, features ascetic monks, called yamabushi, of the Chisan sect of Shingon Buddhism walking barefoot across hot embers to rid themselves of bad luck and evil spirits.

The annual event takes place near Takaosan Yakuoin, an old Buddhist temple located at the top of Mount Takao.

At the festival, worshippers pray for safety for their families and themselves, as well as for protection from traffic accidents, according to the gotokyo.org website.

Once the embers are no longer smoldering, members of the public are invited to walk across them for a small fee.

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Savana Jares, an Air Force dependent living at Yokota Air Base, Japan, watches as people walk over hot embers during the Hiwatari Matsuri, Sunday, March 10, 2019.
MICHELLE S. PRESTON/SPECIAL TO STARS AND STRIPES

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