New Year’s Eve gets out of hand at Japan’s most holy shrine.

Out of all the shrines in Japan, Ise Jingu in Mie Prefecture is considered to be the country’s most sacred, as it’s dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu (daughter of Japan’s creationist deities Izanagi and Izanami), is said to house the Sacred Mirror (which helped draw Amaterasu out from a cave to save the world from darkness), and is overseen by a member of the Imperial Family, currently Emperor Akihito’s daughter, Sayako Kuroda.

With such a revered, sacred background, Ise Jingu is a popular destination during Japan’s most holy of holidays, the New Year period. And as people come to pray and worship here, the famous and well-preserved Okage Yokocho traditional shopping street that leads up to the shrine becomes filled with people, creating a bustling atmosphere.

The shrine’s presence in the background creates a sense of reverence in the air, which means crowds are usually sensible and subdued, and nothing like the party-going hordes seen at Shibuya Scramble Crossing. But this year, things took an unexpected turn, as one young man climbed up on top of a three-metre (9.8-foot) high stone lantern in the street, causing a scene that was captured on film and shared on social media.

Take a look at the video below:

After making it rain, throwing paper bills and then coins out to the crowd, the man then took his sweater off, threw it out to the crowd, and was joined by another man, who climbed up on the lantern. Then a third man climbed up partway and threw out coins to the crowd.

Emboldened by the cheers from the crowd, the man was later seen shirtless, unzipping his jeans and showing his underwear off to the world.

That’s when the police finally arrived, using loudspeakers to instruct the man to come down off the structure. In the clip below, the police can be heard saying “yukkuri yo” (“do it slowly”) as the man climbs down.

These videos, taken from different angles, show the moment the police got a hold of the man. With their whistles blaring, they took him away while being jostled by other young revellers in the crowd.

Commenters online were less than impressed with these young men, leaving comments like:

“I can’t believe they did this at such a holy site. They’ll now have to deal with divine retribution.”
“This is so dangerous. What would happen if they fell and broke their neck?”
“The crowd’s equally to blame for cheering them on.”
“I hope people aren’t trying to copy those idiots who were on the news for tipping a truck at Shibuya at Halloween.”
“First we had those stupid louts at Shibuya Halloween and now this? What’s this country coming to?”

According to local police, the man, who was in his 20s, was let off with a stern warning, despite causing a public disturbance. The stone lantern was left standing after the man’s shenanigans, which might be the only reason why he was let off with a much lighter punishment than those who damaged property by tipping over the truck at Shibuya during Halloween.

Either that or the police figured they would leave the retribution up to the gods.

Source: Hachima Kikou
Featured image: Twitter/@tonpeikai