More than a thousand men and women made a chaotic dash through the grounds of a shrine in western Japan on Friday (January 10) aiming to clinch the title of the year's "Lucky Man".

At exactly 6 am (2100 GMT), the thunderous drum of the Nishinomiya Shrine in Hyogo prefecture beat the start the famous annual frenzy that drew in nearly 1,500 people this year.

Among them, a lucky draw selected 108 men and women -- an auspicious number in Japanese buddhist lore -- to start at the advantageous pole position near the shrine gates.

The giant wooden gates once opened unleashed the manic crowds who soon piled on top of each other as a few managed to dash ahead in to the inner sanctum.

A college student, 19-year-old Seiki Kyoda beat all odds this year to clinch the title of the "Luckiest Man of the Year."

Kyoda and two other top runners, blessed by the priest in a shinto ritual were offered a full year of good luck as a delirious crowd chanted and cheered. They were also bestowed a barrel of Japanese rice wine, called sake, which they promptly shared with others.

Nishinomiya Shrine is dedicated to the god Ebisu, a patron of business men and merchants, and the winner of the race is believed to be bestowed with a year of good luck.

Shrine officials say that it was around the 14th century that locals started hurrying to the shrine on this day sacred to its patron god, to be the first one to offer prayers.

The rush eventually turned into a race as people tried to outrun each other and the shrine officially started recognising the winner of this race as the year's lucky man or woman.

Presented by Adam Justice