Suction Cup Tug of War – A Bald Man’s Sport

The Japanese town of Tsuruta is famous for hosting a unique annual competition – a popular game of tug of war in which bald men attach suction cups to their heads and pull in opposite directions.

The Covid-19 pandemic threw a wrench in all aspects of Japanese society, but it’s fair to say that social gatherings and events were among the most impacted. Tsuruta, a town in Japan’s Aomori Prefecture, recently held its annual “Suction Cup Tug-of-War” tournament for the first time in three years, and it was just as fun as people remembered. Thought up by the Tsuruta Hagemasu Association as a way of shedding a positive light on baldness, suction cup tug-of-war is a fun game in which two people sitting opposite from each other attach suction cups connected through a string to their heads and pull. The person whose suction cup detaches first loses.

Operating under the motto ‘The light of baldness is the light of peace, illuminating the dark world brightly,’ the Tsuruta Hagemasu Association has been trying to shed a positive light on a condition that men have been dealing with for thousands of years. Baldness can cause some men to lose self-esteem, go into depression or develop anxiety, but Hagemasu wants its members to know that they can brighten the world with their baldness through positivity.


Ever since the association was founded in 1989, suction cup tug-of-war tournaments have been held annually in Tsuruta. At one point, the game became so popular that the annual event was renamed the National Sucker Tug of War Tournament and saw participants from all over Japan. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced the event on hiatus for three years, but on February 22nd, the bald men’s sport returned to Tsuruta.


A certain Mr. Ota won the National Sucker Tug of War Tournament for the third consecutive time, making him one of the most successful participants in the history of the sport. As you can see in the video below, he does have a rather flat crown of the head, which I’m guessing can be considered an advantage. But apparently, there are other tricks participants sometimes use, like polishing their heads or slightly altering the force with which they pull in order to force the opponent’s mistake.


Suction cup tug-of-war can be played by men with hair, and even women who attach the suction cups to their foreheads, but it’s clear to see why baldies dominate the sport. The smoother and flatter the surface, the better the suction.

For more wacky sports, check out car-jitsu and armboxing, two of the goofiest contact sports ever created.