theguardian.com – Agence France-Presse – Dozens of bawling Japanese babies faced off in a traditional “crying sumo” ritual believed to bring the infants good health, which returned for the first time in four years after the pandemic.
Pairs of toddlers wearing ceremonial sumo aprons were held up by their parents and faced each other in the sumo ring at Sensoji Temple in Tokyo on Saturday.
Staff wearing “oni” demon masks tried to make the babies cry, with the first to bawl declared the winner by a sumo referee in an elaborate traditional uniform holding a wooden fan used to signal victory.
“We can tell a baby’s health condition by listening to the way they cry. Today she may get nervous and not cry so much, but I want to hear her healthy crying,” Hisae Watanabe, mother of an eight-month-old, told AFP.
The “crying sumo” is held at shrines and temples nationwide, to the delight of parents and onlookers.