Story of a rope; Naha Tsunahiki

The rope is woven from scratch every year at Naha Military Port, and then transported to Izumizaki the night before the big tug-of-war.

The Naha Tsunahiki or Tug-of-War rope is more than 200 meters (650 feet) long this year, weighs 90,500 pounds, and is 1.56 meters in diameter.

It takes a lot of straw to create a 45+ tons pair of ropes used in the Naha Tsunahiki each year, a project done on the southern edge of Naha Military Port.  The tug-of-war takes place each year, and the rope is rebuilt—and stretched a bit—each and every time.  Tons of straw are painstakingly hand woven into strands, with each 40 strands being twisted into a thin rope.  Nine thin ropes become a larger foundation rope used to form both the main ropes, each about 100 meters long, and to accomplish a band wrap around the bundled individual main ropes.

For the 22nd straight year, Naha Military Port’s 835th Army Transportation Battalion has volunteered its land as a construction site.  It’s always been a secure area for construction, with more than 20 workers making the site a workplace and labor of love for more than two months, Weaving the rope and stretching it along over 60 pallets.

Although the Ryukyu Kingdom Festival has endured for centuries, and the modern tug-of-war era more than three decades, the tsunahiki came to international attention in 1997.  The Guinness Book of World Records saw the tug-of-war in Naha, and documented the giant rope as the largest in the world made from natural materials (and used in a tug-of-war), a record Okinawa continues to reclaim each year.