Autumn Festivals in Okinawa

The weather may be hot and sunny but it’s autumn in Okinawa and there are still a number of local festivals held at various places on the island at this time. Yesterday I went to the annual O-Tsunehiki (Tug-of-War) which is held every September in the centre of Itoman City in the south of Okinawa’s main island. The event has many purposes, not least of which is to wish for good luck for fishing and harvesting. Despite it being a working weekday, a large crowd of 45,000 gathered in the afternoon, and the streets in the centre of Itoman were closed to traffic. The tug-of-war itself was the final event of the day and was preceded throughout the afternoon by a parade which began with a marching band, and was followed by a large number of local groups performing in the street. These included eisa drummers as well as many other kinds of Ryukyu singing and dancing by local people of all ages.

A section of the huge tug-of-war rope

The photographer Heiko Junge came with me to the festival and what follows is a selection of the pictures he took throughout the day culminating in the tug-of-war itself:

Explore posts in the same categories: Okinawan Life

6 Comments on “Autumn Festivals in Okinawa”

  1. Aki Says:

    Excellent photos! Thanks for posting.

  2. allie dillon Says:

    Thanks so much for posting the photos. So vivid. My son lives in Japan and plans on making it his home. So I am quickly trying to learn culture. And saving in my piggy bank so I can eventually go to visit. (Waiting for little grandbabies some day to make the trip that much for exciting! So thank you kindly again, with my best from Austin, Allie D.


    As I remember as a child.I watched a o-tunahiki at the kokusai st of naha?

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