Sunday, October 12, 2008

A satisfying day...

As Rachel, Alison, and I drove back from Naha where we experienced the annual tug of war/parade we were discussing how we felt about the day. It was by far the most intense day as of yet in Okinawa or my life for that matter! Alison said, "Well that was fun!" lol I sat there for a moment until I responded with, "What exactly does fun mean?" Cuz in my opinion what I am about to explain isn't necessarily fun, though interesting, fascinating, intense, and comical. To be honest, I do not have the words to adequately describe to you what we witnessed and experience today but I will try as I take you through just a few of the pictures and videos from the day.


From the beginning...We found a great parking spot, though we were not sure of the cost, in a lot right where the tug of war was to be held, knowing that when it was all said and done we probably wouldn't be able to get out right away. Those things are so small compared to the chaos of driving in an unknown area at the time of a huge event in the city! Let me backtrack for a second...We knew we were in the right place by the GIGANTIC, MASSIVE rope down the middle of the street. So we took off walking down 58 (main road through our part of the island and the location of the tug of war) following the large groups of people since we had no idea where we were going though we knew there was a parade going on somewhere. After walking a few blocks we found the action. Basically this whole event is a meeting of the east and west communities, 14 total. Each group had their own flag and little entourage. The parade lasted a few hours and the following pictures and video are of this part of the day (definitely the least stressful :) ).
Each group has their own guy setting off little firecrackers that sounded as if someone was setting off a machine gun. I decided this probably wasn't a comforting thing for many of the military at this event! I think it would have made me duck for cover!
This huge thing is one of the flags being carried by a group of men (one at a time) You'll see what I mean in a second.
Here you go...They would hoist this pole into their belt and then bounce up and down with the drums then pass it on to another man in the group. There were also men standing around ready to help if it got out of control, and it did at times! Whenever they would wobble and the pole would start to come down everyone in the crowd would gasp as if they were scared for their lives...yet no one moved out of the way...doesn't make sense to me!
Some of the groups has different martial arts acts...
Picking up the flag as a group...

This video is what it was like to stand on the sidelines at this parade with all the firecrackers and oos and aws of the crowd.
video
Chanting and helping the flag stay up, by staring at it! lol
Drumming...
There were also little boys carrying miniature flags, practicing for the future!
Many of the groups had girls and boys following with flags and drums...
I caught him in the air!

At the conclusion of the parade we walked down the street to get our spot for the tug of war...LOLOL it makes me laugh now looking back...get our spot?? um no! Not exactly!
At the start of the ceremony... As time went on...









People kept moving up and the men kept asking everyone to move back making it more and more jam packed...Well at least we thought he was asking us to move back, couldn't exactly understand what he was saying. There were some pretty stinkin hilarious Americans there today wondering how in the world there were more pushy people than Americans...but boy did we find them today! I have NEVER been pushed and shoved like I was today. We stood and man after man spoke and group after group performed in the crowd like I just showed above! It must have gone on for about an hour then they started the real stuff!
Here is the rope in the middle of the road...There was another piece on the other side of the intersection. Are you wondering how they connected them together for the tug of war? Yes, I was too. Well, everyone flocked from the sidewalks to the middle of the street (traffic was stopped of course) to grab a piece of the rope. The answer is the crowd...the crowd was going to pull the gigantic rope ends to meet in the middle. Great idea right? ummm, maybe not...There were hundreds of people gathering to grab this rope and pull. But as we pulled it got a bit out of hand as the robe was moving faster than the people could move. There was a major pile up behind us as a woman and her baby got knocked to the ground and others fell on top. We were just about pushed to the ground as well as we stumbled backwards to quickly. Luckily they stopped the pulling just in time. Though the baby was screaming and the mother was seriously in shock as they carried her out of the street. Whew! Crazy! Oh and this is all after the three of us were yelled at by this old Japanese man who has obviously been drinking too much! He kept yelling things at us as we were standing there with the rope. Thankfully things moved on after a few minutes and we never saw that mean old man again!
Here is the rope after the commotion died down and the ends began to meet...
The man in the middle was judging to see when the ends were in just the right spot...
Then they pushed the top part over the other end...
The two leaders from each side meet in the middle and shake hands...
Finally, they looped the ropes through each other and secured them with the large piece of wood...We're ready to start...
NOT...first these men that were all dressed up were carried in on a board over the rope from each side...They had a staring contest and were carried away...
Just before beginning the pulling the large gold ball they had hanging over the center of the intersection was opened with balloons and streamer flying everywhere! Very cool!
This video shows some of the chaos during the tug of war...
video
These men were standing on the rope during the tug of war blowing whistles so each side would know when to pull...
Our side lost! :(
At the end everyone rushed to the rope and began cutting off pieces, apparently that was normal! What didn't seem normal is that they all busted out their knives to do so! Only in Japan can people do this and no one die! Here we are standing in front of the giant rope that you can't see!
I managed to squeeze my way through and force a smile on my face in the midst of the millions of people (k not quite millions)

A nice man gave each of us a piece of the rope and we found this guy just chillin as we were leaving so we just had to grab a photo of this memorable experience...one I will NEVER forget but don't EVER want to do again!
The day ended with some dinner down the street, we couldn't get out of the parking lot, at Charlie's Tacos...good food to end a satisfying but not fun day! :)

1 comment:

  1. Oh, come on...It looked fun to me although all those bells/drums would have given me a headache! It's a part of Japan you will never forget! Glad you had a good weekend! Love you and miss you! Hugs and kisses! :)

    ReplyDelete