Itoman tug-of-war, Itoman Okinawa Japan

Itoman Okinawa Japan Tug-of-War festival

 

Itoman tug-of-war is the second largest in Okinawa, rivaled only by Naha tug-of-war. These days tug-of-wars in most areas are performed on holidays and are usually in part a tourist event, the Itoman tug of war has managed to remain relatively traditional.
The Itoman Great Tug-of-war or tsunahiki is held every year on August 15 of the lunar calendar ( usually mid to late September). The origin of this event is to wish for an abundant harvest and a good haul of fish.

The rope used for this event is hand made by the citizens of Itoman, is also called Suninzuna (people's rope), and measures 180 m in length and 1.5 m in diameter. The giant rope is divided in two, with each side being 1.5 meters in width and 90 meters long. One length of the rope has a female end and the other has a male end. Each year, the north and south alternate between the male and female portion.

The Tug-of-war starts off with two men, one from the north and one from the south, confronting each other. When the confrontation is completed, the actual tsunahiki begins. A match lasts for 30 minutes and ends if one side is able to pull the rope 7.2 meters. If after 30 minutes, neither side has succeeded to accomplice this extremely difficult feat, the side that pulls the rope a total of 90 cm is declared victorious.

Before the tug of war, there is a costume parade involving around 2000 participants. At the parade Okinawan dance and Eisa can be seen and heard being performed. The parade begins at 2:00 p.m. and lasts until about 4:30 p.m

The Itoman tug-of-war takes place on Highway 331 from the Itoman Rotary to Hakugin-do Temple and starts at about 5:00 p.m. Anybody can participate in the event. If coming by car, please be advised that Route 331 will be closed from Hakugin-do Temple to the Itoman Rotary for the festival. If coming by bus (#89 or #32 from Naha), get off at Itoman Iriguchi. The fare is around ¥400.

 

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