Tokyobling's Blog

Nakizumo – Sumo Baby Crying Competition

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on April 28, 2014

One of the most heartwarming traditions in Japan that I know of is the official Nakizumo (泣き相撲) – the crying baby competition. It takes place both in temples and in shrines, and I visited the biggest ceremony in Tokyo at Asakusa’s Sensoji temple. The ceremony was overseen by buddhist monks and a real life sumo referee. 120 babies were divided into two teams, the East and the West and three sumo wrestlers took turns taking the babies into the ring. In Tokyo the competition is very simple: each match is 60 seconds long and the baby that cries that hardest is declared the winner (in other areas of Japan the rules vary quite a lot). The sumo wrestlers are supposed to be big and scary for the babies and the judge and referees do their best by crying “nake nake nake” (泣け 泣け 泣け cry cry cry!) to the kids as the match begins. More often than not, neither of the kids starts crying in the 60 seconds of them match though, and the referees would have to don masks and funny faces to scare the babies. This usually didn’t work either and many of the 60 matches ended in draws.

The day was fantastic with lots of sun meaning that many babies had promptly fallen asleep by the time the matches started. The first little boy taken out into the ring slept all through it. The audience are encouraged to take part in cheering the kids but for most of the time we were too busy laughing to the hilarious kids and the funny referees and their running commentary on the matches. Many kids were too busy laughing or much more interested in the opponent babies to cry but the ones who eventually really started bawling were greeted with applause and cheers.

The ceremony in this temple is meant celebrate both the children and their parents as well as wishing them strength and good health.

Funnily enough the scariest looking sumo wrestler was the most popular with the kids, very few of the babies handed to him started crying and he was eventually disqualified for being to popular (by a joking referee). There are always a few people who are amazed at a ceremony like this, and for them I recommend reading a few thousand entries on this rather funny blog: “Reasons My Son Is Crying”. Warning, don’t click this link at work – you are not likely to get any more work done today if you do!

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15 Responses

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  1. Cathryn said, on April 28, 2014 at 4:58 am

    I cannot tell you how much I loved this. Couldn’t stop laughing. I only wish I had a baby I could take to one of these events.

    Like

  2. levibooth said, on April 28, 2014 at 7:34 am

    This is amazing. I’d heard about this, but hadn’t seen any photos until now, and wasn’t sure that it was for real (although with it being Japan I was quite confident it would be). Thanks for posting!

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on April 28, 2014 at 7:56 am

      Japan is not like other countries and that’s just one of the reasons to love it so much! (^-^) Thank you for the comment Levi! (^-^)/

      Like

  3. Irina Kolak said, on April 28, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Oh, amazing! Hope you are doing well, dear Tokyobling.

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on April 28, 2014 at 8:28 am

      Thank you Irina! It is always good to see you on the blog! I am doing well and I hope you and yours are too! (^-^)

      Like

  4. amadl said, on April 28, 2014 at 10:48 am

    I hope you’ve put a not safe for work warning for this post too because I couLdn’t stop Laughing and giggLing at work.. Did the babies get dresses up in speciaL costumes, too?

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on April 28, 2014 at 11:18 am

      Hahaha…. Not yet! (^-^) Some of them had funny costumes but most were wearing whatever they normally wear, I was surprised to find it so casual! (^-^;)

      Like

  5. Kaori said, on April 28, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Wow, what an event! I love how you’ve captured the various reactions of all the babies. And the expression on the baby in that second to last photo is priceless ;D

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on April 28, 2014 at 11:43 am

      Thank you for the kind comment Kaori! I took over 1000 photos! It was so easy to get fantastic snaps of the cutest subject on Earth – babies! (^-^;)

      Like

  6. DenverSpeax said, on April 29, 2014 at 12:49 am

    Is it terrible that this absolutely made my day?! Thanks for sharing – this is amazing. And, the little ones are frickin’ adorable.

    Like

  7. maikaefer said, on May 1, 2014 at 6:33 am

    Reblogged this on Maikaefer's Weblog and commented:
    Es ist mal wieder soweit – lasst die Babys kreischen!

    Like

  8. Dina Farmer said, on May 2, 2014 at 5:05 am

    my kid would have lost his mind! He would have cried so hard. LOL a very cute competition and I get the meaning behind it cause a loud cry could be indicative of a strong pair of lungs.

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on May 2, 2014 at 5:23 am

      Yes! Especially in this day and age of increasing autism etc. I have a suspicion that the blazing sun and perfect weather combined with a long wait sort of took most of the fight out of these little kiddos: “you get me up early in the morning, cuddle with me all day in the lazy afternoon sun and then expect me to cry just because you hand me over to a nice chubby young man?” (^-^;)

      Like


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