In a 400-year-old ritual believed to bring good health to infants, sumo wrestlers at a shrine in Tokyo reduced babies to tears, in a "baby-cry sumo" competition on 21 September.

Over a hundred babies were bounced around in a makeshift sumo ring at Tokyo's Irugi Shrine as their parents gleefully watched over them.

The infants between the ages of 6-to-18 months were at times roared at in the face in an attempt to make them cry.

Yoshimi Morita, a priest at the shrine said:

"The babies' cries are intended to reach God and parents hope that their little ones will grow healthy and strong. So if a baby doesn't cry at this event, sumo wrestlers try to make him or her cry on purpose, moving the baby up and down, while their parents watch with pounding hearts.

"There is no victory nor defeat in this wrestling, and a match always ends with a chorus of 'Banzai raku!' which means 'Live long'."

The ceremony is practised across the nationwide shrines, however, the versions differ –while some shrines bounce the babies in sumo rings, others make them race against each other to see which baby cries first.

Mae Shige, a participating mother told AFP that her son performed well at Sunday's (21 September) event saying: "He's not a baby that cries much, but today he cried a lot for us and we are very happy about it."

baby sumo
Babies start crying during the \'Baby-Cry Sumo\' at Myogen Jinja Shrine on September 6, 2014 in Hofu, Yamaguchi, Japan. The first baby to cry wins the competition. The ceremony takes place in Japan to wish for the good health of the child as it is said that crying is good for the health of babies. Getty Images
Babies start crying during the \'Baby-Cry Sumo\' at Gokoku Shrine on May 5, 2014 in Hiroshima, Japan. Getty Images
A referee (R) attempts the baby to cry using an evil mask during the \'Baby-cry Sumo\' competition at the Sensoji temple in Tokyo on April 26, 2014. Getty Images
Baby sumo
Babies held by amateur sumo wrestlers cry during the \'baby-cry sumo\' competition at the Irugi shrine in Tokyo on September 21, 2014. Getty Images