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Japanese Traditional Arts

Nakizumo: Crying Baby Sumo
Art Category Folk Performing Art
Name Nakizumo: Crying Baby Sumo

"Crying Baby Sumo of Ikiko Shrine" in Momiyama-machi, Kanuma, is an interesting event held to pray for the healthy growth of children. September 19th (if it is not Sunday, next Sunday) is designated as a major ritual day every year and the sumo takes place on that day.

There is a sumo wrestling ring in the precincts of the Ikiko shrine where the guardian god of easy delivery and child-rearing is enshrined. Shrine parishioners in charge disguise themselves as a sumo wrestler in a loincloth and step onto the sumo ring from the both sides (east and west) lifting an infant up in their arms. A bout starts when the parishioners hold up the infants up high with shouts. The event used to have a rule that whoever cries first is the winner but there is no winning or losing anymore.

The purpose of this sumo is to raise children to have inner strength, a strong body and cleverness. Many people gather for the event from around the country to receive the grace of God to pray for healthy upbringing of their children.

There is a legend in "Ikiko (Alive Child) Shrine" where the crying baby sumo takes place. Here is the legend. Long time ago, there was a married couple who lost their child to an epidemic. The grieving couple carried their child's body on their backs to a spring of the precinct. They did a cold water ablution and prayed for a resuscitation of their child. They promised God to make an offering to enshrine every year. Three days later, surprisingly, the child came back to life and cried loudly.

"Crying Baby Sumo" is the event to pray for a healthy life of children which takes place in the shrine where the wonderful legend has been told.

[Nation's intangible folklore cultural asset, Kanuma City designated intangible folklore cultural asset]
Source: Kanuma City Tourism and Products Association
Translation: Marie Mine, reviewed by Maiko Hayashi

City/Town 1167 Momiyama-machi, Kanuma, Tochigi
Location Ikiko Shrine
Momiyama-machi, Kanuma, Tochigi
Contact City Tourism and Products Association
TEL:0289-60-6070 FAX:0289-62-5666
Access By train: 15 minutes by foot from "Momiyama-machi Station" of Tobu Nikko Line.
By bus: Take the Kuchiawano route bus of Lea Bus (leaf town of bus) and take off at "Ikiko Jinja Iriguchi" bus stop". 10 minutes by foot from the stop.
By car: Exit "Tohoku Jidosha-do Kanuma" interchange. 15 minutes drive (approximately 7km) from the exit.
By taxi: Approximately 10 minutes drive by "Kanuma Station" of Tobu Nikko Line.
Highlight/POI "Crying Baby Sumo" is famous nationwide and has been covered by TV, radio and newspapers. Looking at babies crying with energy, you will definitely have a smile.
General Participation [Participation] General participants are welcome to join "Crying Baby Sumo".
Participation Fee: 4,000 yen (you can sign up on the day of the event)
*You can also make a reservation at Kanuma City Tourism and Products Association (Yatai no Machi Chuo Koen) from July. Please bring participation fee of 3,500 yen in cash for reservation. / Yatai no Machi Chuo Koen is closed every Monday (except for national holidays), year- end and new year holidays / Babies and infants participate to the event must be aged from 6-month-old to around 3-year-old. Babies must be able to hold up their heads.

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