Hitting the sack! Feathers fly in All-Japan Pillow Fighting Tournament

Welcome to Ito, the home of the 6th All-Japan Pillow Fighting Tournament, where clowning around with pillows before bedtime is a spectator sport. This year's competition came to end on Sunday, just in time for an early night's sleep! The rules of pillow fighting are relatively straightforward. The aim of the game is to eliminate the opposing team's boss by hitting them with a pillow. Once... Еще the starting whistle is blown, teams of six to eight players rush from their 'beds' to pick up pillows. As in dodgeball, the fluffy missiles are placed in the centre of the court. Teams must stay on their own side of the pitch, which is the size of 20 tatami mats. Players can use a duvet cover as a shield, but if you are hit by a pillow, you are out. One of the many eccentricities in this most peculiar of spectator sports, is when an umpire cries, «The teacher is coming!» Mimicking the reality of school pillow fights, one team is forced to lie down and pretend to be asleep, while an opponent steals all the pillows. In its first year, the event only attracted 18 teams. The sport has garnered so much publicity that there are now separate adult and children's sections, with a total of 57 teams taking part. It costs 2,000 yen ($18.70; €15.20) to enter and the winners pick up a special prize of 100,000 yen ($936; €761), and maybe even a pillow officially recognised by the All-Japan Pillow Fighting Association.

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