YAMAGATA (Kyodo) Public servant Kenichi Sasahara can spit a cherry pit 16.05 meters, good enough to set a record and win a spitting championship in Higashine, Yamagata Prefecture.

About 1,200 participants competed Saturday to show how far they could launch the pit after eating Sato-nishiki, a high-grade cherry grown in Higashine, the nation’s largest cherry growing area.

The Japan Cherry-pit Blasting Out Japan Grand Prix 2009 was part of a campaign to further promote sales of the fruit.

“I heard you can (spit the pit farther) if you purse up your lips roundly. I trained while picking up cherries, but it was difficult,” said Satoshi Ishizeki, a 41-year-old corporate worker from Chiba Prefecture who took part.

Similar events have been canceled recently out of concern over the swine flu outbreak.

But the Higashine contest organizer gave the green light after concluding the event would not help spread the new H1N1 virus.

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