10.03.2012

Big Ropes and Fun Times

We had Sunday to enjoy because the typhoon had passed over us and the power was back on! Yay! Saturday night, Mark and I looked up things that we could do. We knew that there was a tug-of-war festival in Itoman, but it didn't start until 5 PM and we wanted to make a day out of the trip. We left early for Naha with a plan to go to Tsuboya Pottery Village before heading to Itoman.

Right when we got to Naha, we parked around some really neat shops and just started wondering around. It was completely by accident that we found the shops because we made a wrong turn and then everything turned into 1-way streets, the opposite way that we were trying to go. However, it turned out to be amazing for Mark because one of the shops that we went into had coins! There were all of these boxes (jewerly, handmade, wooden, etc...) and they were ALL filled with coins. He's still going through the coins to find out what country they are from.




We walked through a lot more shops and saw some pretty interesting things. We were also able to get some goodies for our friends and family back home, but I can't tell you what that stuff is!

Those are snakes. It's unclear what they're used for, but we saw a picture that had them on a plate... Gross!!

 Okay, I'll tell you what we got everyone......

We continued walking until we made it to the Tsuboya Museum. According to the Okinawa Hai! website, "Naha’s Tsuboya District has been the center of Okinawan pottery since 1682, but they say the earthenware first began being made about 6,600 years ago. The most famous Okinawan pottery is tsuboya-yaki, and it is still being made after being passed down from generation to generation."

 
Outside of the entrance to the museum

 Ruins from one of the oldest kilns found in Okinawa. It was amazing!

The museum was small, but there were a lot of artifacts and history inside. We enjoyed it, but we were starving. Luckily for us, there was a cafe right outside of the museum. It was fantastic! I had pumpkin/chicken curry and Mark had spicy chicken with rice and a side of noodles. Funny story: Mark didn't listen to the guy who told him to only use a little of the spicy sauce. Next thing I know, he's pouring sweat and his eyes are watering because he had poured so much into his noodles. Ha! That'll teach ya!

 
My pumpkin and chicken curry

We headed to the Itoman Tug-of-War Festival, which is a festival to wish for a year of good crops and plenty of fish, after lunch and really enjoyed it! It was our first festival (there's practically one every weekend) and it was the 2nd largest tug-of-war on the island. The biggest is this coming weekend in Naha and we're hoping to go! They have a "Parade of Costumes" at the beginning and a pretty long ceremony before the war begins.





The rope for this war is no joke. It's gigantic! According to Okinawa Story, "The rope used for this event is hand made by the citizens of Itoman, is also called Suninzuna (people's rope), and measures 180 m in length and 1.5 m in diameter." It starts out in two pieces and then they have the participants bring it to the middle. After that, they hoist one side over a barrel and the other side over the first piece, making a knot.  It was very impressive to watch... that thing had to have weighed a ton!!



After the ceremony they have, what was described as, an altercation. They bring two people dressed up in, what looks to be, traditional warrior attire from each end of the rope. Once they meet in the middle they raise and lower the platform, pretending they are battling. After this is over, the crowd cheers and the war begins!



Each side has a "coach" that counts down and shouts when to tug. Each side goes at separate times and when the opposite side to you is tugging, you're sitting on the rope trying to make it heavier. Everyone from tiny kids to elderly people are tugging! Everyone is having so much fun and it's really exciting. From what I could gather, it was seen as good luck if you were tugging on the rope and a piece of it broke off in your hands. Numerous locals were taking it with them when they left and cutting off pieces to hand out at the end.



Hamming it up during their break. The one on the left said, "Hi, How are you?" in English & was SO proud of himself when I responded back. I imagine it being similar to me saying something in Japanese and they understanding me... if only I could do that. Ha!

Can you say SERIOUS?! He was at the very front of the rope and was working sooo hard!

This guy smiled for a few pictures (I wasn't even trying to actually take a photo of him) and then said, "No more pictures... thank you very much." Ha! It was like he was famous.

"Our side" won... aka the side we were watching from. Everyone was super excited and celebrated the victory. It was really neat to see everyone come together and enjoy each other. Mark and I didn't participate this time, but we hope to in Naha.



1 comment :

  1. Loved your post. Sounds like you had a great time! Tell Mark to stop eating that spicy food. The last time he ate spicy chicken didn't he end up spending the night in the bathroom??? What was he thinking??? LOL

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