Army continues support for Giant Tug-of-War in Naha

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Photos by Rick Rzepka/USAG Okinawa Public Affairs
Photos by Rick Rzepka/USAG Okinawa Public Affairs

Army continues support for Giant Tug-of-War in Naha

by: Rick Rzepka | .
USAG Okinawa PAO | .
published: October 23, 2014

Tens of thousands of spectators gathered in Okinawa Prefecture’s capital city of Naha Sunday for the 44th annual Giant Tug-of-War.

Originally scheduled to take place Oct. 12, the Tug-of-War competition  was postponed due to the harsh winds and rain that Super Typhoon Vongfong brought to the island. But the spectacle, which has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records, went off without issue under mild temperatures and a little help from their American friends.

"This is a superb event that all members of the Army Family should see during their time on Okinawa, said U.S. Army Garrison – Okinawa Commander Eric A. Martinez.  “What makes it truly special is the unique and continued bond between the Army, the event organizers and the local government, who come together to mutually support this one-of-a-kind event."

Since the event was revived in 1971, U.S. military personnel have been presented with special gallery seating to promote gratitude and friendship, according to officials and in return, the U.S. Army assists event planners with a place to construct and store the mammoth 43-ton rope at Naha Military Port.

The Army will also assist the event committee with storage capabilities, which is expected to save the event planners time and money.

Among those representing the U.S. Army at the event were leaders from the 10th Regional Support Group at Torii Station, who highlighted the importance of community and tradition.

"This event is a great opportunity for us to participate and share in the rich history and traditions of Okinawa. We are honored to be part of the community we work and live in," said Col. Leon G. Plummer, Commander, 10th RSG.

The event, which traces its origin to the Ryukyu Empire of the early 18th Century, initially began in four towns of the Ryukyu empire that eventually became Naha, according to the website. While there are other Tug-of-War events on Okinawa, the Naha event is certainly the largest and holds special significance.

“Here on Okinawa there are tug-of-wars like it, but those are to pray for good and plentiful year and a ceremony for rain. The one in Naha is to pray for the prosperity of Okinawa, and to not only give a good-luck charm to, but wish for the good health of all people,” the website states.