Naha Tug of War brings everyone together
If you have not been to the Naha Tug of War, search the word on Youtube. You will likely find clips of Okinawans and Americans pulling the giant rope or rooting together.
Now, it is not too much to say that Americans are a big part of Naha Tug of War. Although there are many events on Okinawa where locals and Americans come together, in my opinion, no other event matches this record-breaking event in the amount of American participation.
The diversity of the crowd is one of the things that makes this special, along with the Guinness World Record for largest rice straw rope, and the presentation of traditional culture. The presence of Americans plays a lot to the mixture for sure.
The popularity of the event among Americans is evident. In the Best of the Pacific 2018-19, an annual survey by the Stars and Stripes, the Tug of War event was voted the best off-base event on Okinawa. Reader comments included: “Large crowd, great food, great people” or “It brings everyone together.”
And the number of volunteers from the U.S. military in yellow t-shirts stands out as well.
“We have many people from the military who volunteer for this event,” said Megumi Shinjo, the office manager of the American Chamber of Commerce in Okinawa. “We see more people volunteer for this event than the number slots we can offer.”
According to Shinjo, 43 people from the U.S. Marine Corps and 37 from the Air Force have signed up to volunteer for this event.
There are many things to enjoy at the Naha Tug of War. For some, it may be all about getting in the frenzy and chaos of people shouting “Pull! Pull!” For others, it may be the food and drinks, or mingling with locals after the game.
Whatever it is that you look for the most, I can say with confidence that being part of the big event is one of the best things you can do on Okinawa. I say this because it is not only a great fun, but also the best way to show respect to the local tradition and culture of Okinawa.
Come and support the Naha Tug of War on Oct 7. Become part of the crowd and help this more than 400-year-old tradition to carry on for another 400 years.