Men and women took part in the Shinto purification ritual

This annual Shinto purification ritual in central Japan is not for the faint-hearted.

Conducted every December 30th, the ceremony at Atayuta Shrine in the city of Takayama involves stepping into ice-cold waters to pray for good health in the New Year.

A group of 19 men and women, young and old, lined up on the river bank to be purified by a priest and warmed themselves by imitating the rowing of a boat.

They spent around five minutes chanting in the 4°C water before stepping back onto the shore.