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The story of a rope; the Naha Tsunahiki

Date Posted: 2011-10-09

The Naha Tsunahiki 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 the rope 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 19th 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 some two dozen workers making the site a workplace and labor of love for more than two months, fabricating the rope and stretching it along 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 re-claim each year.

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