The Crying Sumo Festival (泣き相撲) is undoubtedly one of Tokyo’s more unusual events—and one which has attracted the attention of numerous foreign newspapers over the years. It is held at several shrines throughout Japan, but the event at Sensoji in Asakusa is one of the most famous.
The Crying Sumo Festival is not grown men bawling their eyes out but a competition between one year old babies to see which one cries or laughs first after being dangled in the air by sumo wrestlers. If both babies start weeping at the same time (which is often the case given that they’re being held above the dohyo by 150+kg men and everyone around is staring at them) then the winner is decided by who cries the loudest.
While the event might sound a little cruel it is held to pray for the baby’s healthy growth and development. Incidentally, for the event at Sensoji parents pay ¥15,000 for their baby to compete (amulet and small gift included in the price…).
Two competitions are held, one from 11:10am and the other from 2:20pm. The event takes place in the area behind the main building of Sensoji.