The Yonabaru Ootsunahiki began as a prayer for a rich harvest, good health, and prosperity for decentants.
Yonabaru Ootsunahiki is the biggest event in Yonabaru Town and has been handed down from generation to generation for more than 440 years.
The Yonabaru Ootsunahiki is one of three Okinawa Ootsunahiki celebrations along with Naha and Itoman, though Yonabaru’s rope is famous for being the most gorgeous and strongest. It’s said that the Yonabaru Ootsunahiki started during the era of the king of Ryukyu Shouei more than 440 years ago.
The Yonabaru Ootsunahiki is different from a western style tug of war as a sport because it began as a religious service. As a result, there are many events before it starts.
One of the events is “Michi Junee”.
The rope starts moving after people called Shitaku ride on the rope. About 400 people split between east and west teams are needed to move the rope because the total weight of the rope is 5 tons and the length is 90m. It begins with sounding bells and drums followed by Hatagashira (people holding huge banners on long wooden poles), a band, and dancing women. They lead the rope to the main starting area. There are many fans who come to the Yonabaru Ootsunahiki just to watch the Michi Junee.
Many people carry the giant rope to the starting area of the Yonabaru Ootsunahiki.
Anyone can participate in carrying the rope. If you participate, you can get a special shirt. You can just watch the Yonabaru Ootsunahiki or join in if you want!
Time for the Yonabaru Ootsunahiki. The rope is divided into two, east and west.
The Yonabaru Ootsunahiki starts after connecting both ropes with “Kanachi-bo (a long wood log)”.
Any visitors and tourists can participate in the Yonabaru Ootsunahiki as well.
There is a legend that good luck comes to those who participate. Come have fun and join in on the excitement!!
After the Ootsunahiki, let’s celebrate by drinking beer and eating food from the street stalls.