For the first time in two years, pilgrims ran up the 200 stone steps leading to the main hall and prayed for a safe year at Kimiidera Temple in Wakayama City on January 10, 2022.
The site is known as Temple Number 2 of the thirty-three temples containing the Kannon (goddess of mercy) statues along the Saigoku Pilgrimage in Western Japan. About 60 men and women aged 12 to 83 took part in the first run-up the stone steps since January 2020.
Participants were clad in loincloths and headgear. Running up the steps, they created an exciting atmosphere among the delighted spectators.
This ritual has been held in early January since 2018, when the local running team thought of utilizing the steep stone steps for training its students.
The race was canceled in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While it was reconvened in 2022, the number of participants was reduced and the audience required to wear masks..
Mitsuhiro Nosaka, an 83-year-old retiree from Wakayama City was the oldest participant. He smiled, saying: “I’m happy to be able to run fast.”
Ryota Ishida, a 32 year old firefighter from Kyoto Prefecture, broke a new record of 24.40 seconds up the stairs and won the race. He reflected, “thanks to my family, I have finally overcome the frustration that I had when I came second place last time.”
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(Read the story in Japanese at this link.)
Author: The Sankei Shimbun