Shrine's 'lucky men' race returns after 2-year hiatus

After a two-year break, a Shinto shrine in Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan, has resumed its popular New Year race to choose the "lucky men" of the year.

At the sound of drums, thousands of people dashed through the compound of Nishinomiya Shrine early on Tuesday. The first three runners to reach the main hall 230 meters away earned the "lucky men" titles.

The centuries' old event takes place annually on January 10 as part of a New Year festival to pray for good business. But the tradition was suspended for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This year, the shrine reduced the number of people chosen through lottery to start in the front rows. It also skipped the post-race ceremonial cracking open of a sake barrel.

The 22-year-old university student who won the race said he hopes to spend the coming year sharing his luck with others.