Japan: Nakizumo festival celebrates crying babies

Student sumo wrestlers hold babies beside a referee (C) clad in a traditional costume in Tokyo on April 29, 2013.</p>

Student sumo wrestlers hold babies beside a referee (C) clad in a traditional costume in Tokyo on April 29, 2013.

Cities around Japan hosted a festival today dedicated to making babies cry.

Each year at the annual Nakizumo (“crying baby sumo”) festival, parents hand over their kimono-clad toddlers to student sumo wrestlers who hold them in a small arena and attempt to make them cry.

The sumo wrestlers  shout “Naki! Naki! Naki!” (“Cry! Cry! Cry!”) or show them scary masks to get the tears flowing.

It sounds terrifying, but many toddlers sleep through it or laugh at the sumos, according to CNN.

Two children at a time compete in the ring, and the first child to bawl in each matchup wins.

According to the Japan Daily Press:

There is an established proverb that says “crying babies grow fast” (naku ko wa sodatsu), and the competition is meant to support the growth of healthy babies and strengthen their spirit.