***Osaka Events*** – Tsunahiki Shingi festival (Big tug-of-war)!

Tsunahiki Shingi festival is a unique local festival held at the Yasaka shrine in Namba, Osaka, taking place every year on the 3rd Sunday of January.
The festival is a representation of the mythical fight between Susano’o, a Shinto storm god, and a giant serpent called Orochi.
For those who are fans of Marvel movies, the Thor  vs. Jormungandr battle would be a close comparison.

綱引神事は 大阪難波の八阪神社で催される毎年恒例の地元の神事で、1月第3日曜日に行われています。この神事は、神道の嵐神である素戔嗚尊(すさのおのみこと)とオロチと呼ばれる大蛇との神話での戦いを表現しています。マーベル映画のファンの方にとっては、ザ・トールVSヨルムンガンドの戦いに例えると分かりやすいかもしれません。


In the mythical story, the god Susano’o, after descending from heaven, came upon an old couple and their daughter. The couple was devastated, crying their eyes out.

The god, having nothing better to do, asked them, “Why are you crying?”  The couple told him that they originally had eight daughters, but a giant serpent had been coming to devour one daughter, once every year. And the time had come for their last daughter, Kushihime.
Susano’o proposes to kill the serpent for the family, and in exchange, the girl has to marry him. Not being a rather difficult choice, to marry a god or to be eaten alive, she chooses to marry. Susano’o then does a few tricks with sake and kills the serpent, and then marries the girl.

神話によると、素戔嗚尊は 天から降りてから、年老いた夫婦とその娘に出会いました。老夫婦はひどく泣いて打ちひしがれていたので、素戔嗚尊(すさのおのみこと)は他に為す術もなく「どうして泣いているのですか。」と尋ねました。すると、夫婦は「元は娘が8人おりましたが、大蛇が年に一度娘をひとりずつ食べにやってきました。そしてとうとう最後の娘、奇稲田姫命(くしいなだひめのみこと)を食べに来る時期になりました。」と話しました。素戔嗚尊は、娘が妻になるなら、その代わりとして親子の為に大蛇を退治してやろうと申し出ました。神様と結婚するか、生贄にされるかを選ぶのは大して難しい選択ではなかったので、娘は妻になることを選びました。素戔嗚尊は酒に仕掛けをして大蛇を退治して、その娘を妻にしました。

The Yasaka shrine itself is an interesting place to visit.

Originally built around 1069, before the rise of the Samurai as a powerful force, the shrine has an enormous 12-m tall statue of a lion head!  Yasaka shrine is also known as the lion shrine.


The mouth of the lion serves as a stage, where many events are held, and it is said that visitors to Yasaka shrine who stand in the lion’s mouth will receive good luck.

PS: don’t try this with real lions!

P.S. 本物のライオンでは真似をしないでくださいね!


Before the actual Tsunahiki Shinji festival is held, large ropes have to be braided together, an intense task that takes several hours.


The center of the rope is made into a thick knot, which symbolizes the serpent Orochi’s heart.

Apparently, this knot should only be tied by women, as a young woman has a central role in the myth.

The completed rope is about 30m long and weighs about 300kg!



The tug-of-war starts after a paper banner is inserted into the rope’s “heart”, at which point the two teams begin pulling the rope in opposite directions.

After the tug-of-war finishes, the rope is put into a cart and paraded around the shrine’s neighborhood, while participants shout “namba tsunahiki, yoi, y綱引神事は、綱の「心臓」に大麻(おおぬさ)が差し込まれると始まります。そこを中心として2つのチームが反対方向に綱を引き始めます。綱引が終わると、綱を台車に乗せて神社の周囲を『難波の綱引、よーい よい!』と掛け声をかけながら巡行します。
oi!”, meaning ‘Namba tug-of-war, hey, HEY!’



If you have the chance, don’t miss this festival!


Photos courtesy of Yasaka Namba Shrine.