Photo/IllutrationKurosu Sato, center in the foreground, and other participants start to run as soon as the gate opens at Nishinomiyajinja shrine in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, at 6 a.m. on Jan. 10. (Yoshinori Mizuno)

  • Photo/Illustraion

NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo Prefecture--High school student Kurosu Sato made his own good luck to start the new year at a shrine here on Jan. 10.

Sato claimed the "luckiest man of the year" award as he beat some 5,000 other participants in a mad 230-meter dash from the gate to the main hall of Nishinomiyajinja shrine in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture. The traditional new year's race started as soon as the gate opened at the shrine at 6 a.m.

Sato, 18, is a third-year student of Amagasaki High School run by the city government of Amagasaki, also in the prefecture. He belongs to the track club in the school and is good at short-distance sprinting, he said.

“I want to help brighten Japan by giving good luck to various people,” said Sato, who lives in Ashiya, also in the prefecture.

Nishinomiyajinja is the head shrine of those dedicated to the Shinto god Ebisu, the bringer of prosperity.

(This article was written by Chae Soochoi and Takayuki Morita.)