Most people equate Tokyo with skyscrapers and bustling urban neighborhoods, but Japan’s capital also includes vast stretches of natural wilderness. One of Tokyo’s natural landmarks is Mt. Takao in the west, which each spring is the site of a Buddhist fire-walking ceremony, in which monks walk barefoot across embers of burning wood and charcoal in an act of ritual cleansing and purification. Before crossing the fire, the ritual includes the monks fending off evil forces with traditional weapons, and striking themselves with branches dipped in boiling water.

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