Paantu are supernatural beings. Paipateroma (Wikipedia Commons)

The annual Paantu festival in Miyako-jima, Okinawa, Japan, sees local men dress up as supernatural beings to cleanse the island and its inhabitants.

During the ninth month of every year, according to the Chinese calendar, male residents of the small island Miyako-jima dress up as Paantu, an indigenous god, and chase children around the streets, trying to paint them with sacred mud.

The men are covered from top to bottom with leaves and mud from a sacred local well. On their faces they wear a curved wooden mask with a large forehead, small eyes and a thin mouth.

Paantu stalking children issei zee (YouTube)

The centuries-old event has been passed down as a ritual to get rid of evil spirits and bad luck.

Tradition dictates that the mud should be spread onto newly built houses, or on the faces of newborn babies as a blessing.

It is believed that if you are touched by a Paantu, you will have good fortune in the coming year.

A girl gets pinned down by the Paantu as she tries to escape. issei zee (YouTube)

Small children and those trying to avoid getting muddy are typically targeted by the Paantu, because, as with every good festival, you have to have a little fun, too.

Unfortunately, children are often left scared and crying but parents, keen on having their fun as well, will happily hand their terrified child over to the creatures.

One child is left terrified issei zee (YouTube)

No one is left safe from mud as the Paantu roam the island, and houses and cars will be left covered in sacred dirt.

This year's Paantu festival is due to take place on 3 and 4 October.

Not even police and cars are safe from the Paantu.
A Paantu chases a small girl.