Traditionally all over the world tug of war was a religious ritual. In Japan, as well as other Asian countries, tug of war had been held for the forecasting of rice harvests or the following year’s fish haul. However, after the Meiji period (19th CE), tug of war’s original significance gradually shifted from forecasting events to athletic competitions. Nowadays, a small-scale version of tug of war is commonly held at sports meeting in most Japanese schools.
About the tug of war in Kariwano
Kariwano Tug of War, the largest scale of tug of war in Japan, is held on every February 10th in Kariwnao, a region of Daisen-City, which is located in the southeast part of Akita Prefecture. This tug of war is nationally-designated as an important and intangible cultural property. This event, initiated for worshipping a god of the city in the Muromachi period (16th CE), has 500 years of history. Around 7,000 people participate in this annual event and pull a huge rope until the game set is called, which can last about half an hour, even on such a brisk, wintry night. The participants of this festival are divided into two sides, Kamimachi (the northern area) and Shimomachi (the southern area), and do a tug. It is said that the price of rice will rise due to poor harvest if Kamimachi wins, and it will be the year of rich harvest if Shimomachi wins.
About the huge festival rope
The diameter of the ropes is around 80 centimeters, the length is around 200 meters, and the weight is around 20 tons. Annually the two ropes are made a month before the festival and then tied on the actual festival day. The concept of the huge rope used in Kariwano Tug of War is derived from the theory of Yin-Yang of ancient China. On one hand, the Kamimachi rope is a symbol of male with the edge of the rope shaped like a sword. On the other hand, the Shimomachi rope is a symbol of female with the edge of the rope shaped like a hole. The ropes are combined by inserting the Kamimachi rope into the Shimomachi rope.
Experiencing heat of people in the cold night
Once the festival starts, a cheering voice of “Johyasano” echoes in the festival venue, and lanterns are waved to the rhythm of the voice. Participants pull the 20-ton-weighted rope with their full strength as it gradually floats up into the air. The huge rope waves like a big snake, and the breath and the voice of the participants heat up the air of the venue. Though this festival takes place in the coldest season in Japan, a heated atmosphere makes you forget about the iciness of the winter.
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- Group discount rate of bleachers
- Number of car spaces
- About 100
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