Yes, it's the 'Crying Sumo' contest: Japanese wrestlers compete to see who can make a baby bawl first
By MAIL FOREIGN SERVICE
Last updated at 10:12 AM on 26th April 2010
So much for the argument that leaving a baby to cry can result in brain damage.
These Japanese sumo wrestlers believe the exact opposite: That a good long wail can be healthy for babies.
That, at least, is the theory behind the bizarre 'crying sumo' or Nakizumo festival held at the Sensoji Temple in Tokyo earlier this month.
Because it's GOOD for them: A sumo wrestler holds aloft a bawling baby during the Japanese Nakizumo festival in Tokyo yesterday
Evil spirits: Japanese belief holds that the tears can ensure good health for the children
University club sumo wrestlers hold babies aloft in the contest and try to make them cry. Whichever baby cries first, is the winner.
If both babies cry at the same time, the one bawling loudest is declared victor.
The babies are persuaded to tears by a sumo judge, who orders them to 'nake, nake' ('cry, cry') as the wrestlers growl and make faces.
Best laid plans: When the babies refuse to cry - some laughing instead - the judge is forced to bring out ogre masks, which usually do the trick
The competition is 400 years old and takes place across Japan
Of course, even the best laid plans sometimes go awry, and the babies end up laughing instead. At that point the wrestlers don ferocious masks, which usually finishes the job.
The babies are held aloft so that their cries are closer to heaven. During the 400-year-old competition, their parents pray for the good health of their children.
Evil spirits are supposedly driven away during the festival, which takes place across Japan.
Childcare expert Dr Penelope Leach made headlines last week when she claimed that fresh research proves that long periods of crying can damage developing brains, leading to learning difficulties later in life.
Mothers wait in line to enter their babies in the bizarre competition on Sunday