Monday, September 17, 2012

Beating the Heat Okinawa Style

We had recently been hit in quick succession by a couple of typhoons in Okinawa. One of the upsides of having a typhoon come through, in addition to clearing out all of the dead wood and exposing all those yard jobs you've been putting off is that it tends to cool things off
Typhoon season peaks in September. But in August, a dozen typhoons could come through and it couldn't cool things off enough.
If you want to cool off in the summer, the best way to do it is to get wet. It's certainly the most economical way to do it!
These pictures are from Kurashiki Dam park in Okinawa city. If you drive along highway 329 look for the sign and follow it. The route will take you past some unpleasant things, like the town dump and lots of construction yards.
But, when you finally get there, you can find a little bit of paradise and a great place to take kids for a chance to cool off and have some fun!

Saturday, September 8, 2012


You hear it in the alternative news all the time these days. Something is coming! Everybody knows it! It’s just that what it is that’s coming, no one seems to know for sure. All they seem to agree on is that it’s coming, it’s something big and it’s going to change everything as we know it! It may even be apocalyptic and everybody needs to be getting prepared for the worst! That’s part of the problem. If you don’t know what to prepare for, you’re pretty much screwed. I mean if something bad happens to the economy or if there is another terrorist attack, everyone and their brother is rattling sabers and sharpening their knives. Will it result in martial law, should we be storing up on non-perishable foods, camping supplies, silver and gold coins, what’s next???

We stopped down in Naha just a couple of days ago and took in lunch at the Seamen’s Club. If you’ve never been there, it’s on the south side of Naha port along road that leads to the international terminal of the Naha airport and just past the military port facility. The Seamen’s club is separated from the military port by chain link fencing and topped with barbed wire and signs in “Engrish” and Japanese that warn people that this is a restricted area and to keep out under fear of the penalty of law.

That’s when we saw it and right then and there we knew exactly what everyone here on Okinawa was preparing for! We also knew right then and there that everyone was right; it was something big, something really big! The Naha Great Tsunahiki (tug-o-war) is coming up soon and now is the time to prepare for it. That’s what these workers were doing. The reason they're doing it here is because the Naha military port is about the only place big enough to prepare such a huge rope.It's also close enough to the Kumoji intersection where they hold this event and that makes it a little easier for the trucks and cranes they'll use to set it in place the night before the big event.

First, they have dig last years rope out of storage. Hey 40 tons of rice straw is hard enough to get in a good year so why let last year's rope go to waste. Then they have to unravel the remnants of it and laying them in place on a line of pallets about a city block in length. Next they take more rope and wrap it around the main rope and they also intertwine a whole series of additional “pulling” ropes into it so the participants can get a good grip The celebration is all part of this year’s Naha Matsuri or festival.

The Naha Great Tug of War is the largest tug-o-war in the world and as always it is open to everyone! The busy Kumoji intersection of Route 58 where the ropes will be joined will be completely cleared, with the road divider removed specially for this event.
 (This is just one half of the rope, the other half is laid out in the distance)

Make way for this gigantic rope because it's a Guinness World Record holder, measuring 200m (656 feet) in length, and weighing more than 40 metric tons (44 Amer. tons, 39 long tons)! This event definitely needs a lot of people in order to pull the rope, and that means we need you too!
 (A promotional photo from a previous Naha Tsunahiki)
 (Word of caution, don't bring knives or box cutters to this event, the organizers will cut off pieces of rope for some of the lucky participants. Getting some rope after the event is first come first served. Of course if you wear a traditional Japanese Yukata and are cute like these gals, your chances of getting some lucky rope to take home go up significantly)

After the tug of war is over, don't forget to take home the pieces of the rope. Local legends have it that this is believed to bring good luck for the rest of the year. With all of the stupidity in the world today, we could all use a little bit of luck. Besides, this is going to be a whole lot more fun than stocking your pantry with cans of tuna and bags of pasta don’t you think???