On your mark, get set, now SCREAM! Nakizumo is a 400 year old event that appears to be based on the proverb “crying babies grow faster”. Babies less than 1 year old are brought to the shrine, flung into the air, screamed and made faces at by sumo wrestlers and Shinto priests (or gyoji sumo referees) usually two at a time. Whichever baby screams first or loudest is declared the winner, though there is no real prize. At first this ritual may appear to be cruel, making babies cry, but it is all in good fun at least for the adults. It is also believed that the ceremony, which involves purification before the crying part, will enable babies to grow up stronger and healthier, so it’s all for the best. The screaming sobs are also supposed to ward off evil spirits. For good measure, both babies are hoisted high into the air by the wrestlers so that their screams will be closer to heaven, which will intensify the blessing.