A baby crying contest was held at Sensoji Temple in Tokyo on Saturday where amateur sumo wrestlers carried babies while a referee harassed the infants to make them cry.
This is the only occasion where females are allowed to enter a sumo ring.
“It’s acceptable as long as the females are being harassed while in the ring,” says Japan Sumo Association chairman Hokutoumi Nobuyoshi.
Historians believe the tradition was first introduced in the 17th century by feudal lord Shintaro Mazafuka, a sadist who despised toddlers.
Mazafuka spoke of a “very reliable truth”, which he heard from a “friend of a friend” in high places, of how forcing babies to cry would ward off the “evil spirits”.
A few tears, however, weren’t enough to satisfy Mazafuka, who professed that babies who cry the loudest would grow faster and stay healthy.
“I have no sympathy for Masatoshi,” said 24-year-old mother of baby Masatoshi.
“This is tradition, so it can’t be cruel.”
The ritual is said to make babies stronger with Japanese children rarely crying when they fall over or slightly injure themselves in the playground.
“It’s amazing, I’ve seen a Japanese child face plant into concrete and not even a whimper, our Jack starts bawling if a fly lands on his arm.”
This year, 160 victims took part in the event.