The Naha Giant Tug of War Festival, said to have started in 1450, boasts a long and proud history as one of Okinawa's largest events. The most excited part of this festival is the giant tug of war featuring a rope that is so big it is recorded in the Guinness book of world records. The rope used in the festival is made of a "female" rope to the West known as Miinna, and a "male" rope to the East known as Woounna. The two ropes are ceremoniously joined and officially becomes 200m long, 43 tons, and needs a total of 15,000 people to complete the tug of war, an almost too impressive sight to see. Any and every one is welcome to pull the rope, and the smiles of participants from many different countries fill the crowd. Besides the tug of war, there are also many other events, such as traditional folk dance parades, Hatagashira performances by youths from regional areas during a Hatagashira Procession, and many many more.
From 2:00pm on the first day, the Kokusai Street becomes the stage for a Citizens' Parade. Okinawa's traditional dance known as the Eisa is performed here, and is a must see, boasting nimble movements and taiko drumming. You are sure to be amazed by the lavish outfits and techniques.
From 11:30am to 2:00pm on the second day, huge flags make their appearance for the Hatagashira Procession down Kokusai Street. Each of the 14 Hatagashira flags is made and decorated individually as a symbol of the village they represent and also as a protective deity to which prayers of prosperity were given to during the making period. Only a few lucky men are allowed to yield these precious flags and it is a life long honor to be chosen to do so. Watching these men lifting up and nimbly moving around these flags that reach up to 10m in height an weigh 50kg each, is simply impressive.
The rope used in the festival is made of a "female" rope to the West known as Miinna, and a "male" rope to the East known as Woounna, and represents the power behind two opposites that form something new when conjoined. The wooden log used in the unification of these ropes is known as "Kanuchibo" and weighs 365kg. Once this log—which is carefully made based on the days of a full year—is fit into place, the rope becomes one, and the tugging begins!
After the festival morale is heightened by people dressed as important historical figures during the "Shitaku", or preparation, the tug of war is commenced at the sound of the gong. The rope is made up of 280 thinner ropes and can offer tugging space for up to 15,000 people. Once the tugging begins, you can hear the creaking and crying of the rope echoing in tone with the grunts and yells of the people involved. Anyone is allowed to join in on this main event. Many overseas faces can be seen and smiles fill the crowd. It is said that if you participate in the tug of war, that are also able to "tug" in good fortune.
Please refrain from using drones during the festival.
The venue becomes very crowded so please make sure to keep your eyes on children.
Use of knives and sharp objects at the festival is prohibited.
Access to Kumoji Intersection of Naha City
Kenchomae Station, on the Yui Rail
5min walk to the intersection from nearest station.