On Children’s Day, sumo wrestlers make babies cry to bring them good fortune. (The babies, not the wrestlers.)
Naki Sumo Baby Crying Contest is based on the proverb: “Crying babies grow fat”.(“Naku ko wa sodatsu”.)
Some Japanese parents believe the 400-year-old ritual will scare away demons and bring good health.
The sumo wrestlers pull faces, make noises and jiggle babies to get their assigned one to cry first.
An old stand is just yelling, “CRY! CRY! CRY!” (“Naki!”) into their little faces.
The first baby to cry is declared the winner. If both start crying at the same time, the louder baby wins.
If the child is unimpressed, the referee, or gyoji, resorts to a devil mask.
Some parents even pay to have their toddlers terrified on Children’s Day or “Tango no sekku”.
But it’s all worth it because, for the best cryer, a long, healthy life seals the deal.
Siobhan is a freelance writer, research addict and lover of twisted history. If you like horrible but amazing history, check out her website www.interesly.com or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/interesly. Or you can reach her through www.siobhanoshea.com.