Ok, I know I am a whole 3 weeks late on this subject but I had to post about the biggest tug of war! I wanted to finish posting about California before I finally moved back to the Oki posts. Anyway, we were excited to have been able to experience such a special event here in Okinawa. I was still super jet lagged because the event happened the weekend I got back from California, that, and it was so hot. My body had adjusted to California dry heat so coming back to the humidity was KILLER. Nonetheless I was really happy to be part of the experience.
There was about 275,000 attendants this year! It really did not seem like there was so many people at the time but looking back at the photos it makes sense. We could definitely feel the excitement running through everyone when we were passing by them in the street and we could see it in their faces. When we saw the rope we were not expecting it to be that big! I mean obviously we kind of had an idea because we read somewhere that 15,000+ people participate in the actual tug of war but . CRAZY! Just take a look at the rope and this is only one side!
The rope was registered as the largest rope made of rice straw in 1995 and was again cited in 1997. The rope at the time was 200 meters long and weighed 43 tons! I would not be able to saw how much this rope weighed or how long it was but it was definitely huge!
We got there right when the parade was ending, bummer I know. But it was great to see some of it. I really wish I could understand what they were saying though.
Although the parade did not have translators, where we were, the event itself did. It was nice to hear it in English but I want to learn Japanese and quit complaining about no translation. This is their country and island and we should be the ones able to understand them, not the other way around. Anyway! The event itself was really exciting!
My favorite picture. I love when Danny captures moments like this!
Just a fore warning, they say the event starts at 11am, thats actually when the parade starts. The actual tug of war did not start until 3:30pm, it might have even been 4pm. It was so cool hearing the rope being pulled though! We could actually hear the rope dragging; Since it was so heavy we thought it would take forever to move but the force that everyone had moved it right away. The excitement from everyone was actually really fun to witness too. We could feel the excitement every time the rope would inch closer and closer to the other side.
There were men with whistles on top of the rope telling everyone to pull and to stop. Since there are two sides of the rope they have to be interlocked in the middle. The process was actually really intricate, they would pull one way and then the other way since they had to interlock it perfectly.
Parts of the rope were actually falling apart because of all the pulling. But it is said that taking a part of it home will bring luck to you.
This event was a really fun one to experience but the Okinawens do it for a purpose. The purpose of the tug-of-war as a means for thanksgiving and to pray for abundant harvest and rain. It is a tradition for them and has been for over 500 years, to be a little part of this even was really cool. It was just really nice to see how excited and festive the natives are to do this and as a visitor on their island it was cool to help them celebrate this important event. The only thing I wish I would’ve been prepared for was the weather and how much the jet lag took a toll on me. We actually did not stay to witness the end due to how physically exhausted I was. The celebrations do not stop when the rope is tied together, there is more to do. Unfortunately, I was not able to witness and be part of the ending of the celebrations. Fortunately, we have 2 more to go to and stay to the end, for now I apologize for the abrupt ending.
We definitely had a great time and are blessed enough to say that we were able to experience such an event. Next year we will be sticking it till the end. Some tips for anyone out there interested in the event. Parking is going to be hard to find, getting there early is a must. There is so much to do a walks away in Kokusai Street and the parade starts there! We actually found parking in the street about 20 feet away from the end of the event. Super convenient! Wear light clothing and a hat, it may be October but it is still hot and humid! Other than that it’s an amazing experience! Thank you all for tuning in to our adventure. Please feel free to leave any questions and comments. Thanks!