Nakizumo Crying Sumo Festival, April 2010

Yesterday, I braved the crowds at Asakusa’s Senso-ji temple to witness a time honored Japanese tradition – shaking babies. No, I don’t mean the sort of behavior that results in Shaken Baby Syndrome, but the infinitely more entertaining one type that involves young sumo wrestlers.

Every year on the 4th Sunday of April, Senso-ji Temple at Asakusa holds a nakizumo festival, where young sumo wrestlers stand in a traditional sumo ring and compete to see who can make a baby cry the loudest and longest. A referee watches and yells, “Nake nake nake! (Cry, cry, cry!)” until finally declaring one baby the winner. The cries of the babies are supposed to bring good fortune to the children and drive away evil spirits. This type of festival is held in a various locations around Japan…in Asakusa, it has been going on for 400 years.

I was a little disappointed that they didn’t recruit full-grown sumo wrestlers to scare the kids into crying, I would have loved to see a big sumo wrestler holding a tiny baby. Instead, we got two sumo-wrestlers-in-training. Neither one of them looked much older than 15 to me. It was quite entertaining to watch these two chibi-sumos try to make the babies cry – one was fond of throwing the kids into the air (which they seemed to enjoy more times than not) while the other was trying to be very nice to the babies (which only seemed to make then cry harder). That’s babies for you, fickle creatures indeed.

When neither of the sumos could make a baby cry, the judges busted out some silly plastic oni (demon) masks and wore them in front of the babies – which made the audience burst out into laughter and the kids burst out into tears. Can anyone say, ‘Traumatized for life’?

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Comments (5)

  1. theandroid111000

    This would be sooo band in England!

    though I think its kindof cool! 😛

    que evil laugh!

    May 2, 2010
    • constantineintokyo

      Yeah, it wouldn’t go over well in America either…but they weren’t shaking the babies in a damaging way. They were bouncing them. It doesn’t take much to make babies cry anyways… ;P

      May 6, 2010
  2. Taro

    Flash! Flash!
    May I have your autograph?

    Some of the AOL comments make me laugh,
    no wonder I’m so messed up….wwww

    May 5, 2010
    • constantineintokyo

      Yeah, it is interesting to read the comments from people who don’t really know anything about Japan. It seems like people can be very angry and judgmental!! lol

      May 6, 2010

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