Scores of spectators gathered Aug. 1 to cheer as 10 divers took turns executing a series of breathtaking 7-meter plunges.
The venue wasn’t London, but rather a Buddhist temple on Lake Biwako in Shiga Prefecture. The divers, Buddhist ascetic monks from around the country, were participating in an annual ritual known as "Isaki no Saotobi," at Isakiji temple in Omihachiman.
As elegant as any Olympic athlete, the monks, robed in white and wearing a strip of cloth marked with the names of worshipers, walked to the end of a 13-meter log that extends over the lake.
At the sounding of a shell horn, with eyes ahead and hands clasped in prayer, they took the final step and let themselves drop serenely into the waters below.
Each splash drew huge applause from spectators at a temple hall and on nearby boats.
The event is said to date back to the Heian Period (794-1185).
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