More than 100 Japanese babies faced off Sunday in a traditional “crying sumo” ring, an annual ceremony believed to bring infants good health.
In the sumo ring at the precinct of the Kamegaike Hachimangu shrine in Sagamihara west of Tokyo, two hulking wrestlers held up toddlers wearing tiny sumo belts and aprons to try to make them bawl.
Wrestlers sometimes shake the babies gently to encourage tears.
“My boy was crying from the very beginning and I felt a little bad,” Tomoyo Watanabe, the mother of Zentaro, told AFP. “But as I watched my baby crying, I was praying for him to grow up healthy and strong after this event.”
Sumo wresters hold up crying babies in front of a referee on May 14, 2017 (Toru Yamanaka / AFP)
The “Crying Sumo” is held at shrines and temples nationwide, to the delight of parents and onlookers.
“The cries of babies are believed to drive out demons and protect the infants from troubles,” said priest Hiroyuki Negishi.