KYOTO--Visitors to Kyoto's Shimogamojinja shrine, in Sakyo Ward, waded through teeming crowds and knee-deep water to take part in a traditional foot-bathing ritual at the Mitarashi Matsuri festival on July 27.
Barefoot visitors rolled up their pant legs--or the hem of their "yukata," for those in traditional Japanese garb--and stepped carefully into the shrine's spring-fed pool.
Wading through the frigid water, they placed candles on a long altar and prayed for good health.
The foot-bathing ritual, known as "ashitsuke shinji," dates back to the Heian Period (794-1185).
Visitors to the historic shrine, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, received both spiritual and earthly relief from the watery ritual, as daytime temperatures soared.
The high in Kyoto that day reached 37 degrees, the summer's highest yet, and the heat lingered through the night.
Visitors to the shrine can take part in the ritual between 5:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. through July 29.
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