This year we got to attend the Naha Tug of War which is the biggest tug of war event and straw made rope in the world. I was excited to attend since I had read about this before we came here. Other cities around the island have their own Tug of War festivals in the months leading up to this but Naha holds the main event in early October.
This year, the rope measured in at 200 m long and weighed 43 tons! The big wooden pole that holds the rope together weighed 1 ton as well.
So what's the history behind this festival and why do they have it you ask? Well, let's get educated. The tug of war roots trace back to the 17th century, back in 1712, Naha was divided into 4 towns and these were separated as the East and West side. This festival was held to pray for a good and plentiful harvest, and as a ceremony to the rain. There is a big parade and festival leading up to the main event which is a tug of war between the East and West sides of the town. The one in Naha nowadays prays for the prosperity of the people. The rope is carried in from both sides and then connected in the middle by a big wooden pole.
Video below of them carrying in the rope. Obviously it takes thousands of people to move this thing together since it's so heavy!
After the rope is brought in and connected, the 'King' from each side is brought down on a platform the length of the rope and the two Ryukyuan 'Kings' perform a sword ritual contest.
After the ceremony - the rope pulling begins! The winner must pull the other side a total of 15 meters and the max amount of time this ceremony will last is 30 minutes.
Unfortunately, this year our 'side' lost. Up to 15,000 people can help participate pulling the rope. Nate and I were pretty close and tried to help where we could but it was crowded!
People shout 'Haiya! Haiya!' during the tug of war which I'm assuming means 'pull'? Haven't been able to get a straight answer on this one yet...
It's good luck to take home a piece of the rope and organizers will help cut off pieces and hand it to people. Nate and I got our good luck charm before heading out to dinner.
We ended our day the best way we know how, with a view of the beautiful East China Sea eating pizza :)
Nate and I are headed to Kyoto Japan in a week so I'll definitely have some blog posts about that! Before we got I will try to post about Shuri Castle and our 2nd cooking class.
Until next time folks
Follow in our Footsteps:
Naha Tug of War Festival
*The Naha Great Tug-of-War is the highlight of the three-day-long Naha Great Tug-of-War Festival and takes place on the second day of the festival.
Onoyama General Athletic Park and Kokusai Street
Usually held around October 10-12
宮城児童館 90, 2, Chatan, Nakagami District, Okinawa Prefecture 904-0113
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!