: Classifieds : MyJU :
Stories: Culture
Browse Culture Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

Pull your weight behind Naha Matsuri

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2004-10-07

Finally, a chance to participate in a Guiness Book of World Records project.

It’s really true. The Naha Matsuri (Naha Festival) this weekend features the world’s largest tug-of-war, and you can help make history. The 30-minute rope pull takes place Sunday afternoon.

The festival runs three days, Saturday through Monday, in downtown Naha.

Sunday is a key day, with a parade, the tug of war, and an evening of music, foods and fireworks.

The tug-of-war, called Tsunahiki in Japanese, features a 586-foot rope stretched along Highway 58 at Kumoji intersection. The rope, which will see some 25,000 people joining hands on either the east or the west side, weighs 40 tons. The rope is 1.56 meters thick, a bit fatter than six feet. It’s been in the Guinness Book of World Records since 1997.

The two sides of the rope represent the East and the West sides of Naha, in a ceremony that dates back ages. The tug-of-war begins with the rope knots being brought together, followed by challenges of the two kings who once controlled the area. The goal is for one side to move the rope several meters in a half-hour. It’s tough, and progress is measured in inches from minute to minute. Last year’s winner was the West team.

Thousands flock to the street to be a part of Okinawa’s largest rope event. There are others across the island, but none compares to the Naha event. Dozens of small ropes extend from the main rope, which has been constructed over the past several months at Naha Military Port. Team leaders standing atop the rope should “Hai-ya … O-Shoi” encouragement and to keep the movements focused. The words translate along the lines of heave-ho, or pull hard.

The festivities get underway earlier, with a massive parade down Kokusai Dori beginning at l pm. You’ll see the eight representatives of the East team, and eight representatives of the West team, as they march the full length of Kokusai Street, ending at Ryubo Department Store. Great photo opportunities as you and the family can be within a few feet of the dancers demonstrating their skills with tall decorative poles and, of course, eisa drums.

The Tsunahiki ceremonies leading up to the tug of war begin at Kumoji intersection at 3pm. It’s crowded, so you’ll want to get there early to get a good position. There are martial arts demonstrations, music, and of course the queing for the tug of war itself.

The ceremonial release of thousands of balloons and confetti high above the gathered crowds signal the start of the battle for rope pull bragging rights.

After the tug of war, the festivities shift to Yamatake Undo Koen Park, just to the south, for hours more fun and games (Monday’s a holiday, so don’t expect anyone to quit early). Fireworks end the evening at 9:45pm.

The Cost

The parade on Kokusai Dori and the Tsunahiki on Highway 58 are free. Parking in the area is not, and can wind up costing several thousand yen, depending on how long you linger in the festival areas. Many military families take advantage of tour and bus services offered by Marine Corps Community Services, including the Single Marine Program, 18th Services at Kadena Air Base, and Navy MWR.

The costs for foods and souvenirs vary, depending on individual tastes. Of course, the pleas of little ones appealing for more stuff must also be factored in.

Getting There

From the military bases, head south to Naha City. As you pass Tomari Port and Tomarine Hotel on the right, first opportunities to find parking are offered. Turn left or right off Highway 58 and look for the blue “P” signs. The alternative is to continue through the City, crossing the bridge adjacent to Naha Military Port, and then look for the parking signs. For those planning to make a day of it, the more southerly parking is recommended; when tired, the shorter walk back to the car will seem wonderful.

Browse Culture Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

weather currency health and beauty restaurants Yellowpages JU Blog

JU FacebookOkistyleOkistyle

Go to advertising PDF?||?|o?L?qAE?|?}?OA?N?ga`OkiStyle?A??q?qM?oeu^?I`??N?gX?<eth>?<ETH>?ni^?IWanted!!Golden Kings ScheduleOkiNightSeeker