Sunday, October 12, 2008

Push a war...

Actually we went to Naha's Tug of War today - it was in the Guiness Book of World Records a few years back and one of the few things I could find in the tour book in Japan back in the States. So I had been asking about it and dragged Rachel and Adrienne along of course :) Anyway the experience is a bit beyond words so I took lots of pictures and will try to recreate it the best I can, but really there aren't enough words and there is NOTHING comparable at home! Crazy, funny, entertaining day - smile is still on my face and I still have LOVELY Columbus day off tomorrow :) So our adventure begins driving down the 58 towards Naha - we've only been there for the airport so this is our first time on our own. I looked it up and all the directions we have is the intersection - but with a giant rope, a parade and thousands of people I'm pretty sure we'll be able to find it...Adrienne keeps asking, where is it? Are you sure we can find it and all of the sudden this is what we see at a stop light...I looked at Adrienne and was like, see it's hard to miss! This rope is HUGE...bigger than our car at the end (course I'm bigger than our car, but STILL, this is a rope!)

We found a place to park - have no idea how much it costs - we think 1,000 yen for the day which is about $10, but who really knows we're here and we'll figure it out later :) We park, wander down the street unsure where to go for the parade so we of course follow the other white people wandering about and find the parade...about got run over by a giant pole which we soon found out was going to be part of the parade. Background on this festival - there are 14 parts to Naha, 7 on the east, 7 on the west. They come together to prepare for a good harvest and the winner of the Tug of War has good luck for the year. This tradition goes back 100's of years so it's pretty intense on the pride part! It started as just a special occasion thing but is now to promote Okinawan culture, tourism, and "mutual understanding between citizens" Anyway, the parade involves each part of the council in the city and they each have a flag or two, I took pictures of them all :) The kids even get involved and their are mini versions for them to train with!

This was the end of the parade route - not so crowded...JUST WAIT!

1st flag
This is how they held them - the flags were SO tall, they would all take very short turns so we assume they were also VERY heavy!
2nd flag
All involved had these outfits...they train them young for this!
Conch blowing
3rd and one of my favorites :)
This is how they got them to stand up to start walking or take them down to move areas...sometimes they would need to be rescued also!
This one almost fell down - the guys holding it did fall pile!
These hats reminded me of my kids PE uniforms
4th flag
Gotta have a dragon right? There was a dance too
5th flag
The mini version!
6th flag

7th flag
8th flag
9th flag and my other favorite
Water break! I was thankful it hasn't been as hot the last 2 days...AND not as muggy!!!!
10th flag
11th flag
12th flag
13th flag
14th flag
and THE END....
Off to the Tug of War...first the 14 flags have what looks like a face off - it was hard to see because it was so crowded

The rope before being attached to the other side
This giant gold ball was hoisted in the air in the middle
We were SO packed in - it gives new meaning to being in a can of sardines...this lady was walking in front of me (yes she was Japanese, yes she has purple hair) This is all I could capture of the situation because she was seriously right under my nose) Whenever ANYBODY moved, we all moved, it was like bobbing in a sea of people...good luck staying put!
Lots of speeaches...we couldn't understand
At the end the gold ball split open and balloons and confetti fell down on us!

The "leaders" from both sides were carried in to begin the "war"

The ropes are now the beginning we grapped the ropes to help pull the two ends together...ok, so we're hanging onto our little bit of our mini rope no big group goes by the other direction (video below) no big deal...this man starts yelling at us in Japanese - he's drunk and VERY unfriendly about something, the Japanese people around us are also a little unerved by this man as well. Thankfully a rather large military guy got him to leave us alone :) So, now it's our tunr to pull - they''re giving directions in Japanese and all of a sudden there's a surge of people and the people behind me are falling - I'm hanging onto the rope for dear life praying I don't get smushed in all of these...everyone manages to get upright and out of the small dog pile - one lady had to be carried out from the shock...we made our way AWAY from the rope...we watched the rest of the time at a safe distance :)

Strange masked men...pirate man, pinapple man, pig man, super hero man...No Japan man though :( ha ha

Me in front of the rope - not that you can see it with all the people!

Announcer man

People on top of the rope...

They all wiped out KNIVES to cut the rope apart - if you have a piece it gives you good luck for the year...UM, SHOCKING! Knives everywhere - no one got hurt, everyone was friendly and it was completely normal to be sawing away at this rope...we got our pieces and found something to eat before heading home - OH MY...good day - nothing compares...a little scared at times, but overall a tale to tell
Afterwards the leftover rope was picked up by 2 cranes (did I mention it weighs over 18 tons????)
Crazy videos of the parade and the tugging...Sorry this blog was a bit on the excessive side, but I had a hard time choosing pictures and videos...and trust me, this is less than half of what I took today!!!


Mom said...

It was great to see your happy face this morning. I wished I could have had a picture of you as you signed off. Loved hearing about this fun day.

Anonymous said...

My mom and I sat here and enjoyed your blog together today (Jessi is here too but she fell asleep...not a reflection on your writing ability she spent the day traveling!) Anyway mom and I feel like we've been to Japan! (If only!) Anyway glad you had an "interesting" adventure and have a new memory/souvenir to bring home... I went to Japan and brought back some rope... yee haw! Love you lots and glad you didn't get crushed by the crowd... Japan man is out there you just wait! (te he) P.S. - Happy "Canadian" Thanksgiving... it is Columbus day for ya'll I guess!
love ya - Sarah

Cheryl said...

I'm glad you had a good time and have a good luck souvenir to bring back with you! Love you!