Omagari Otsunahiki (Tug of War)
As soon as the giant sacred straw rope (shimenewa) is placed down on the ground children jump onto it. Then the 136m long rope is pulled from Suwa shrine with children riding on it to the centre of town where people divide into two groups and begin the tug of war. If the up town wins the rice harvest will be good, but if the down town wins the price of rice will increase. Omagari tug of war started in 1729.
The tug of war was an ancient sport in China. Two thousand years ago it puzzled out which religion, Buddhism or Taoism, was superior. The event was later transferred to Japan. In Kansai and Kyushu it is a night event of Bon in summer or during a full moon in autumn. In the eastern part of Japan the event is held at the beginning of a new year. In Kyushu ivy or wisteria vines are used to make a rope. In the East people use a rope made of straw.