Grooms soaked with water in ancient Japanese marital tradition


Clad only in thin cotton summer kimono, four recently married men were soaked with icy water by four bachelors on Monday in northeastern Japan in a rare festival dating back some 400 years.

The festival known as "mizu-shugi," or the gift of water, is held every January at a shrine in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture. Legend goes that by bathing in clean water, the grooms' families are guaranteed safety.

In line with tradition, the young bachelors drew water from a well and drenched the newlywed men three times, prolonging their agony by pouring the water over them slowly.

Fuuka Niitsuma, 22, who watched her 24-year-old husband Toshihiro's teeth chatter throughout the process, said after the event, "He did it well. Now I want to quickly get him warm."

Some 200 people gathered to watch the festival, designated by the city of Iwaki as Intangible Folk Cultural Property.


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