Some 5,000 men burst through the gates of Nishinomiya Shrine in Hyogo Prefecture at 6 a.m. on Thursday morning and raced 230 meters toward the shrine's main hall with the frontrunners attempting to capture the title of fuku-otoko ("Lucky Man").
The annual New Year ceremony, which has been held since the Edo period, is associated with Ebisu, a god of prosperous business. The first three participants to reach the main gates are considered Japan's luckiest men for the year.
The lucky runner who took first place was Yuki Yamamoto, a 21-year-old fireman from Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture, Fuji TV reported. He said he hopes his win will help cheer up the people of his home town which was hit by flooding and mudslides last summer.
Among the prizes Yamamoto received were a barrel of sake and rice.© Japan Today