It's good to be a crybaby

It may not look like fun, but these babies held by sumo wrestlers were crying for their own good. They were taking part in a "Baby-cry Sumo" event yesterday at Japan's Kamegaike-Hachiman shrine in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture, in the belief that crying brings good health to infants.

Some 150 babies aged under two took part in the annual baby crying contest at the Shinto shrine.

Japanese parents believe that sumo wrestlers can help make babies cry out a wish to grow up with good health.

Wrestlers sometimes shake the babies gently to encourage tears.

"My boy was crying from the very beginning and I felt a little bad," one mother, Ms Tomoyo Watanabe, told Agence France-Presse. "But as I watched my baby crying, I was praying for him to grow up healthy and strong after this event."

Priest Hiroyuki Negishi said: "The cries of babies are believed to drive out demons and protect the infants from troubles."

The ceremony is believed to date back more than 400 years.

The rules vary from region to region. In some places, parents want their offspring to be the first to cry. In other areas, the first to weep is the loser.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2017, with the headline 'It's good to be a crybaby'. Print Edition | Subscribe