Japan's Crying Baby Festival

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Shawn Taylor | 8.20.18

All around Japan, parents gather at Buddhist temples on a Spring day so their one-year-old babies can face off in the contest of the traditional NAKIZUMO (literally, Crying Sumo) festival.

The babies are lifted up into the air by traditionally-garbed Sumo wrestlers, and the baby who cries or laughs first is declared the winner of that round - if both babies sound off at the same time, the winner is chosen by volume!

Thankfully, this is not just a way to teach kids about test anxiety at an ever younger age – the festival is a traditional event to pray for the healthy development of all the babies attending. There is a Japanese proverb that crying babies grow faster, and the noise of the festival is traditionally believed to chase evil spirits from the area.

While the festival is popular around the country, according to the Japanistry website the most well known events are held at the famous Sensoji Temple in the historic Asakusa neighborhood of Tokyo.

So if a crying baby is keeping you awake on your flight to Japan, maybe you can rest a little easier knowing that a possible future champion is keeping your plane free from evil spirits!

Cover photo credit : Guilhem Vellut

Shawn Taylor