Kagoshima: Men Fight Fierce Tug-Of-War Battle

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Participants engage in a fierce but symbolic clash during a traditional tug-of-war event in Satsuma-Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, on Sept. 22. After the 1½-hour battle, the rope snapped, leading the tug-of-war to end in a draw.

SATSUMA-SENDAI, Kagoshima — A traditional tug-of-war event was held recently in Satsuma-Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, during which as many as 3,000 men pulled a giant rope that is 365 meters long and weighs 7 tons.

The event was resumed after being canceled for three consecutive years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This tug-of-war, which was held on National Highway Route 3, is characterized by a physical battle in which some participants play the role of running into enemy lines and clashing into opponents with their bodies, while others pull the rope.

In the recent event on Sept. 22, shirtless participants began to pull the rope to the beat of a drum and fought a fierce battle.

This traditional event is said to have been connected with Shimazu Yoshihiro (1535-1619), a warlord based in what is now Kagoshima Prefecture.

He fought against Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, and an anecdote says that Yoshihiro used a tug-of-war like this to boost the spirits of his troops for the battle.

Yoshihiro was known for his bravery and during the battle against Ieyasu, he is said to have broken through the enemy camp with a small number of troops.