Baby Sumo?

There are strange rituals and festivals all around the world. When they involve children, they can sometimes be exceptionally terrifying. But Japan’s baby crying contest seems to be in the name of good wholesome fun.

Called the Naki Sumo Festival, the contest takes place at the Sensoji Temple in Tokyo each year.

The festival is a centuries-old tradition stemming from the belief that a crying baby will grow up happy and healthy. The idea is for the baby’s cries to add prosperity and ward off demons.

Naki Sumo Festival

The festival gets its name from the saying “Naku ko wa sodatsu” or “Crying babies grow fat.”

Once a year, parents bring their babies born in the last year to the Sensoji Temple. There, they will give their babies to two amateur sumo wrestlers. The sumo wrestlers each hold one baby and face each other from across a sumo wrestling ring.

No, the wrestlers aren’t training baby sumo wrestlers. Rather, it’s the wrestler’s job to get their assigned baby to cry. They do this by lifting the baby into the air, yelling at it, or making strange faces. If the baby refuses to laugh, they will sometimes put on scary masks and try to scare them into crying.

There’s a sumo referee there to judge the match. The baby that cries first, loudest, and the longest are deemed the winners. And what do the winners get? A long and healthy life.

Naki Sumo Festival

CC Guilhem Vellut