The festival traditionally began when Toyotomi Hideyoshi who conquered Japan made his army men pull the marine boats with ropes to boost soldiers' morale.
The festival is held spanning two days; kids' tug-of-war on the first Saturday of July, and the adults' on the following Sunday.
The town's residents split into hill-team and the beach-team, pulling at a 15cm thick and 20m long rope at the cue given by a gong and a flaming arrow. It is said that if the hill-team wins there will be good harvest, and if the beach-team wins there will be a good catch of fish.
At the middle of the long rope is a big oval "mito" (the center piece of hunting net) made with straw wrapped in straw bags and then tied up using rope. From early in the morning on the first day the townsmen craft this large mito. The battle to pull the mito to win is a thrilling show to watch.
Young men known as wakashu pull the rope, wearing happi representing the areas they live. It's fun to look at the different designs from each area.
It may get dangerous near the middle of the rope (mito). Please watch from a distance.
Accessing Karatsu City
Karatsu Station (JR Chikuhi Line)
Yobuko Otsunahiki street
Yobuko, Yobuko-cho, Karatsu City
30 min by bus from Karatsu station
nearest bus stop; Yobuko Hacchakujo
Showa bus line
5 min walk from the bus stop