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Hopefuls compete for best bald head

JAPAN NEWS-YOMIURI
                                Participants in a bald head contest faced off in a tug-of-war with suction cups attached to their heads in Yokote, Akita prefecture, in late January.
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JAPAN NEWS-YOMIURI

Participants in a bald head contest faced off in a tug-of-war with suction cups attached to their heads in Yokote, Akita prefecture, in late January.

YOKOTE, Akita >> In late January in Yokote, Akita prefecture, eight men ranging in age from 40 to 90 gathered for an annual contest. The prize? The title of top bald head in Yokote.

Founded by a group of enthusiasts, the Koto-kai (shining heads organization) has held the event since 1991 as a New Year’s tradition, hoping to brighten and invigorate the community.

The men faced off in a suction cup tug-of-war, in which suction cups linked by a string were attached to two competitors’ heads.

At one point the battle got heated as the contenders held their ground for more than five seconds, string taut. Finally, the audience cheered when one of the suction cups came loose and the victor was declared.

Hiroshi Fujiwara, 84, won the contest for the second time in about 10 years.

“I didn’t realize how painful it was to be pulled by the suction cup,” said Takashi Kunugihara, 49, a business owner from Nabari, Mie prefecture. He heard about the competition on TV and participated for the first time.

“I want to take care of my head next year by putting on some lotion,” he said with a smile.

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