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)
(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)