lunedì 7 ottobre 2013


Date importanti, qui a Naha (Okinawa), il 12 e il 13 di ottobre. Sabato 12, lungo la via dello shopping e del turismo (Kokusai-dori), si terrà l'imponente Naha Festival, una sfilata che è vetrina del meglio del folclore locale (Eisa, tamburi taiko, karate) unito a spettacoli di importazione: dall'hula hawaiana al samba brasiliano, dalla salsa latinoamericano al tai-chi cinese. A condire il tutto un po' di americanate, dalla sfilata di Topolino a quella delle majorette, passando per le Miss-di-bellezza di mezzo mondo. Interessante, in particolare, il gruppo carnevalesco di bambini che celebra il gemellaggio di Naha alla brasiliana São Vicente.

Il festival prosegue il giorno dopo (domenica 13 ottobre), con l'evento che più di tutti, nel corso dell'anno, attira visitatori nella capitale di Okinawa: il più grande tiro alla fune del mondo. Il Tug of war (那覇大綱挽) si svolge nel pomeriggio lungo la Route 58, l'unica strada abbastanza larga per contenere la folla oceanica entro il perimetro urbano. A fine competizione è rito tagliare un pezzetto di corda e appenderlo all'ingresso della propria abitazione: darà fortuna per l'anno a seguire.

The Naha Tug of war (那覇大綱挽) is an event at the annual festival held in Naha, OkinawaJapan. Its roots may be traced back to the 17th century. Held on Route 58, it is a battle between the East and West teams. This correlates with the competition between two rulers in the Naha area in the old days.
The event draws some 25,000 attendees annually, and is preceded on the prior day with a parade celebration on Kokusai Street (also in Naha). In 1997 the event was first logged in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the largest tug-of-war event in the world. The rope weighs some 40 metric tons.
The festival begins with men dressed in traditional Okinawan garb standing on the rope facing in opposite directions to symbolize the battle between East and West. A myriad of performances take place along the rope's length, from martial artists of varying ages, to older women performing a sort of fan-dance. It is an international event with Japanese nationals, American military, and tourists in attendance. Just before the start of the match a man dressed in the garb of the Ryūkyūan kings stands on a wooden platform hoisted in the air on the shoulders of men standing on opposite sides of the rope. The "king" is carried on this platform down the length of the rope, before the festival starts, and the two kings perform a ritual sword contest.
The main rope, over one metre in diameter, has many smaller diameter, but very long ropes extending from it, and the participints pull these during the contest. The contest lasts 30 minutes and the challenge is to pull the other team a total of 15 metres. If neither side pulls the other the 15 metres, whichever side has pulled the other the furthest wins.
After the 30 minute time limit expires, one side is declared the victors, and they are allowed to climb on top of their rope to celebrate. It is customary for participants to cut apart the rope, and take a length of it as a token, and so throngs of people using tools ranging from their pocket knives, scissors and hacksaws set on the rope cutting lengths of it to commemorate the festival.


The Naha Tsunahiki rope is more than 200 meters (650 feet) long this year, weighs 90,500 pounds, and is 1.56 meters in diameter. It takes a lot of straw to create the rope used in the Naha Tsunahiki each year, a project done on the southern edge of Naha Military Port. The tug-of-war takes place each year, and the rope is rebuilt—and stretched a bit—each and every time. Tons of straw are painstakingly hand woven into strands, with each 40 strands being twisted into a thin rope. Nine thin ropes become a larger foundation rope used to form both the main ropes, each about 100 meters long, and to accomplish a band wrap around the bundled individual main ropes. For the 19th straight year, Naha Military Port’s 835th Army Transportation Battalion has volunteered its land as a construction site. It’s always been a secure area for construction, with some two dozen workers making the site a workplace and labor of love for more than two months, fabricating the rope and stretching it along 60 pallets. Although the Ryukyu Kingdom Festival has endured for centuries, and the modern tug-of-war era more than three decades, the tsunahiki came to international attention in 1997. The Guinness Book of World Records saw the tug-of-war in Naha, and documented the giant rope as the largest in the world made from natural materials (and used in a tug-of-war), a record Okinawa continues to re-claim each year.

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