One of the Biggest Events in Okinawa, The 44th “Naha Great Tug of War Festival”!
post : 2014.10.09 22:00
Feature of summer in Okinawa is of course the great tug of war!
Among all the great tug of wars held throughout Okinawa, “Naha O-tsunahiki, or Naha Great Tug of War” is a special one, since the rope is recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest in the world made from rice straw. The ultra-big rope is approximately 200m in length, is 1.56m in diameter, and weighs in at 43.0 metric tons. You can take a close look at this gigantic rope at our annual event “Naha Great Tug of War Festival,” which attracts more than 280,000 spectators in and out of Okinawa. Actually, everybody can participate in the event!
“Naha Great Tug of War Festival” is held every October during three consecutive holidays including Health-Sports day (which are scheduled to come on Mondays, so the date is subject to change every year) around the center of Naha City. The Great Tug of War itself is held on Sunday.
This year the 44th “Naha Great Tug of War Festival,” will be held for three days from Saturday, October 11 to Monday (Holiday), October 13. During the period, events like live performances, etc. are held in designated places.
The main Great Tug of War event starts at 15:08 on the 12th (The ceremony for the Great Tug of War starts). Centering around the Kumoji Intersection on Route 58, as many as 15,000 participants pull the rope together in a dynamic way.
The Naha Great Tug of War is a traditional event that has a history of more than 400 years since the Ryukyu Kingdom period. A variety of stage business before the tug of war is also worth watching.
“Gaaee” means “the winner’s triumphant shout.”
“Hatagashira Gaaee,” in which the executive committee of each region (the east and the west) lift their own beautiful flags up in the air and compete with each other, is exciting!
“Karate Gaaee” performance is also heroic.
And finally they joint the ropes of the west side and the east side by a giant pole called “kanuchi-bo”!.
After that, there are solemn performances called “Shitaku Gaaee” and “Touzai Tsunakata Gaaee,” in which “main characters,” who play as historical figure strike a flamboyant pose on the rope
At 16:00, by the signal of the mayor of Naha City, kusudama (a decorative banner dropped from the paper ball) will be broken to start the tug of war.
Even in October, the temperature goes up to nearly 30 ℃ on a sunny afternoon in Okinawa. All the participants will be bathed in perspiration!
The tug of war lasts 30 minutes and the result is determined by the measurement by the judge team.
For your information, the east won 13 times, the west 13 times, and they ended in a draw 14 times so far. Both teams are strong and of level pegging.
After the tug of war, you can take home a piece of giant rope as a lucky charm. Many people crowd for “Karii (auspicious) Tsuna (rope) Tori (taking),” in which pieces of the giant rope are cut off to be distributed to participants. For one year, they have been looking forward to getting one.
This grab battle is not less heated than the main tug of war. (LOL)
*Please note that concerned staff gives out pieces of the giant rope. It is strictly prohibited to cut out the rope by yourself. It is needless to say that it is strongly against the law to bring knives (to cut out the rope) except authorized people. If you do, you will be questioned by the police. So please never do that!
You can not only observe it, but also be the “power” of either of the east side or the west side in this participation-style, big event.
Please come and feel for the heated battle of the historical, traditional event!
*Please note that in case of bad weather conditions such as a typhoon, the executive committee will discuss in the morning of Saturday, 11th and make announcement whether the tug of war will be postponed or cancelled through mass media.
The 44th Naha Great Tug of War Festival
Dates: Saturday, October 11 to Monday (Holiday), October 13, 2014
Venues: Kokusai-dori Street, Kumoji Intersection on Route 58, Onoyama Park, and some others.
Host: The Naha Great Tug of War Executive Committee, and some others.
TEL: 098-862-3276 (Tourism Division, Economic and Tourism Department, Naha City)
Okinawa CLIP Photo Writer Kiwamu Ogawa (Qey Word)