It is believed that tears can ensure good health to the babies driving away evil spirits. They are held aloft so that their cries are closer to heaven. There is a saying in Japanese that states 'naku ko wa sodatsu' which means 'crying babies grow faster'. It is also said that the louder the baby cries, the more it gets blessed by gods from heavens. However, there is a completely opposite proverb that states 'neru ko wa sodatsu' which means ' sleeping babies grow faster'. Whatever be the reason, this tradition is a 400 year old one being organized every year at major shrines and temples all across Japan.
'Nakizumo' means 'sumo of tears' in Japanese. Mothers wait in line for the two sumo wrestlers to hold their babies aloft facing each other. The baby that cries first is declared as winner and if two babies cry at the same time, the baby that cries louder is the winner. Some babies laugh instead of crying; in that case, a priest with an ogre mask will try to scare them to cry. The wrestlers also make growling faces telling them to cry. The famous locations where this festival is conducted are Sensoji temple in Tokyo (in April), Ikiko shrine in Kanuma (in September), Yamajioji temple in Wakayama (in October), Saikyoji temple in Hirado (in February) etc. The festival is conducted to bring good health and fortune to the kids. They do not make babies cry too much though as it may affect their health. The best places to watch this festival is at the Saikyoji Temple in the month of February and Sensoji Temple exactly on April 28 this year.
MAP (Sensoji Temple)
Website (Saikyoji Temple): http://www.saikyoji.org/
Website (Sensoji Temple): http://www.senso-ji.jp/
If you have babies and want to give them good luck, this festival is a definite visit. It is overall a fun and adorable event with so many families joining together with their kids.
Profile Image Source: Japan Daily Press