In Japan, winter festivals in the past week make for interesting visual juxtapositions. Snow and Ice festivals display large illuminated sculptures for the public to enjoy. In Shingu, the end of winter is celebrated by thousand of men lighting torches on a mountain shrine.

By Leanne Burden Seidel

Japanese men wear Fundoshi, a traditional Japanese undergarment and pray during the purifying body wash ceremony ahead of attending the Oto fire festival. The male-only festival celebrates the close of winter and sees nearly 2000 men run down the 538 steep stone steps from the mountain shrine. The day begins at dusk with Noboriko preparing themselves by bathing in saltwater during a purifying ceremony on a beach in Oiigahama.
(Chris McGrath/Getty Images)