Okinawa Tourism Information:OkumaGreatTugofWarFantasticLanternParade

Okuma Great Tug of War Fantastic Lantern Parade

post : 2014.10.01 21:00

In Okuma, Kunigami Village in the northern part of mainland Okinawa, under the moonlight of harvest moon (on August 15 in the lunar calendar) and lights of a lantern parade, “Okuma Great Tug of War for Inviting Year of Good Harvest” is held.

From 6 PM at the ground of Okuma Elementary School, Okuma Eisa by Kunigami Village Youth Association and Lion Dance, etc, are performed.

Especially Okuma Eisa is interesting as their dancing style is “hand dance Eisa” special to the northern part of Okinawa.

Performers form a circle and dance just by using hands without drums, so spectators can enjoy a nostalgic sight as if they were seeing the Bon dance in mainland Japan.

While I was appreciating the Eisa performance, a woven straw headband was handed out.  Putting on the headband, I got excited because I felt like myself as one of the participants. 

The most characteristic about this festival is the lantern parade.
They were divided into “the North Force” and “the South Force.”
Before the tug of war, the lantern parade was carried out, which is the highlight about the event.

All the lanterns were handmade.  The lantern contest was also held to compete for the originality.
“Maruta,” awamori (Okinawan liquor) from Kunigami Village, was also used for the design for a lantern.

Ms. Kotona Nakamoto won the first place in the individual division this year.
She was very happy to receive the prize, a bicycle!
A 5th graders at elementary school won the Principal Prize (the Special Prize) and was given an electric fan.
From the following day after the festival, the students must have been enjoying classes in a cool environment.

After the lantern contest, all the lights were turned off.
All we had is the moonlight and the light of the lanterns.

The lantern parade illuminating the darkness was sublime and very dreamy.

Cheering voices of both the North Force and the South Force were heard by turns.  The moment a locking pole called kannuki jointed the male rope and the female rope, the great tug of war started finally!

After the dead heat for 3 minutes 46 seconds, The South Force won the victory this year!

It does not matter which team won.  Everybody showed their guts and worked in a good cooperation, which will bring the community a good prosperity.  That seems to be a promise by the community god.

You can take home the divided winning rope with you, so it would be great to decorate it at home or office as a lucky charm.

 “Okuma Great Tug of War for Inviting Year of Good Harvest” is a heartwarming festival that unites everyone in the community into one and brings everybody a happy smile.

Okinawa CLIP Photo Writer  Hiroshi Kuwamura (KUWA)

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