Naha: Time to get ready for giant tug-of-war
NAHA, Okinawa — Muscles and a fun-loving spirit are welcome at the annual Naha Giant Tug-of-War festival this weekend.
Naha City will host the three-day festival, which kicks off at 2 p.m. Saturday with a parade on Kokusai Street featuring Okinawa traditional dance performers.
The tug-of-war, free and open to the public, is to start at 4 p.m. Sunday on Highway 58 in the city’s Kumoji section.
The rope contest is a battle between residents of the east and west sides of Naha for bragging rights and a chance at good luck.
The tug-of-war dates back to the early 1600s under the Sho dynasty in the Kingdom of the Ryukyus. The rope, made of rice straw, is about 600 feet long, has a diameter of about 4 1/2 feet, and weighs 43 tons. As many as 15,000 people take part in the big pull.
Legend has it that should east side residents tug the hardest, they will find good health and happiness. If the west side wins, they’ll receive a good harvest and prosperity.
On Saturday, Kokusai Street will be closed to motor vehicles between 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Music concerts and food booths will be at Onoyama Park, located across Naha military port, Saturday through Monday.
On Sunday, traffic on Highway 58 between Kumoji and Izumizaki intersections will be restricted from 3 to 5 p.m.