Japan sumo holding crying babies festival

Crying isn’t for the losers – The Naki Sumo Crying Baby Festival

There’s nothing more powerful than an image of a man holding a baby – as long as he hasn’t stolen it – a symbol of protection, love and warmth. Why would a parent want to spoil this beautiful picture by making the baby cry on purpose?

Well you see in Japan, there’s an annual festival where the words ‘baby shower’ refers to tears not trinkets, featuring some of the largest men in the world, holding small babies. With the sole aim of being the first to make them bawl their eyes out.

It’s a tradition that was started hundreds of years ago, and thought to ward off demons. Unsurprisingly this hasn’t been proven to work – possibly because demons don’t exist. But either way, it hasn’t stopped parents offering up their babies for public displays of terrified weeping.

And it’s competitive: If two babies start screaming at the same time, she who cries loudest comes first.

If for some reason being held by a large, sweaty giant in a freezing cold Sumo ring doesn’t make the babies howl, the wrestlers double-down by wearing terrifying masks. And the audience shows their love and care by screaming ‘Cry! Cry! Cry!’

This may seem bizarre, but the event is supposed to guarantee a long, healthy and happy life. Mind you, if CryFest is a life’s start point, pretty much surely anything is happier from there on up.