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Hiroshima Carp baseball team manager undergoes fierce fire ritual to pray for victory

KOYA, Wakayama -- Takahiro Arai, the newly appointed manager of Nippon Professional Baseball's Hiroshima Toyo Carp baseball team, underwent a grueling fire ritual at Shojoshin-in Temple in this western Japan town on Jan. 19 to pray for his team's success this season.

    Hiroshima Toyo Carp manager Takahiro Arai, center, undergoes the Gomagyo fire ritual at Shojoshin-in Temple in Koya, Wakayama Prefecture, on Jan. 19, 2023. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)=Click/tap photo for more images.

    Arai has gone through the Gomagyo ritual annually since 2004, when he was a player, and continued to do it for several years after retiring from the field. This year was his 20th time to undergo the ritual, and the first as a manager. He chanted mantras in front of a blazing fire for nearly two hours. As a priest chanted, "Hiroshima yusho, shingan-joju" (roughly translating to "Hiroshima victory; wish will come true"), Arai and other participants from the public repeated the same phrase.

    Arai's face grew red because of the fire, but he looked fulfilled after the ritual, saying, "It's tough no matter how many times I've gone through it, and I'm scared before doing it. But my mind is strengthened."

    Revealing that as a player he went through Gomagyo with the thought "I'll do my best," he said it is different now. His wish has changed to one befitting a leader, saying, "I hope all the players will run wild around the field with no injuries."

    (Japanese original by Yu Kishimoto, Osaka Sports News Department)

    In Photos: Hiroshima Carp baseball manager endures fire ritual on sacred Mt. Koya

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