The Naha Matsuri Festival

The Naha Matsuri is the largest and oldest festival in Okinawa. Not only that, but it’s also the largest tug-of-war event in the world. It started in the Ryukyu Kingdom almost 600 years ago as a thanksgiving ceremony for plentiful rain and the bountiful harvests. The yearly October festival is celebrated with a lively parade, various street performances, and of course, the main event – the tug of war. Here we will reveal when, where, and how you can enjoy this fun and exciting Naha festival.

  • How Naha Matsuri is celebrated
  • Event details

Tug of War Okinawa 2013

Video is owned and created by Athanasio.

How Naha Matsuri is celebrated

Three events take place during the three-day-long festival. There are the main tug-of-war event, a parade, and various performances.

Onoyama Park Festival: The Onoyama Park festival lasts for the entire three days of the Naha festival. People gather in the park to enjoy concerts which are held on two different stages, sing in karaoke competitions and enjoy good food and drink. At the end of each night, they hold a spectacular fireworks show.

Naha Matsuri Tug of War Rope.

Matthew Rings, Naha Rope 001, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

Kokusai Street Parade: At 13:45 on Saturday, Kokusai Street closes to traffic for the street parade, which lasts from 14:00 to 18:30. You will find various martial-arts performances and deeply traditional Shishimai Lion dances along with Eisa dance performances, complete with taiko drums. On Sunday, from 11:30 am to 14:00, the street is closed again to traffic for the Hatagashira Parade.

Tug-Of-War: This is the main event of the Naha Matsuri. Around 280,000 people gather on route 58’s Kumoji intersection to watch 15,000 others pulling a 43-ton rope. It entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 1997 for being the world’s largest tug-of-war event – and still holds the record to this very day.

Two sections of rope are ceremonially joined. There is the ‘female’ section of the line, which is the western side and known as Miinna. Then there is the ‘male’ section to the east known as Woounna. When combined, it has a total length of 200 meters. The best part is that anyone can join in and help pull. Also, taking a piece of the rope home with you is customary and considered to be good luck.

Event details

When?6th to 8th October
Where?Naha City: Kokusai Street, the Kumoji Intersection and Onoyama Park.
Admission FeeFree

Further reading

It takes 15 men a total of 40 days to make the worlds largest tug-of-war rope. Find out how this incredible job is done here.