The Japanese people have a very well-earned reputation as a very quiet, reserved, even disciplined people. One of their famous sayings has to do with forcing yourself to fit in and not stand out. Perhaps it’s because of this restrictive lifestyle that when they decide to let loose and be crazy, they get redneck crazy. (I knew it wasn’t just southerners!)
On September 22nd of every year, 3000 Japanese men, old and young, rich and poor, descend on the center of the city. They split into even teams to reenact an ancient tradition passed down over the last 400 years… What ancient, stoic tradition, you wonder? Tug of war.
Seriously. The preparations begin as early as 5am, when the children of the city begin rolling the massive rope. It is over 1,000 feet long and weighs in at over 5 tons. By nightfall people from all over the country have arrived by rail to watch the spectacle. For hours, the competitors struggle back and forth, gaining and losing ground, until at last a victor is declared.
This sounds fairly silly, but it reminds me of the spiritual struggle that many of these people don’t even realize is taking place. And the prize is their souls. Satan’s team is full of powerful forces pulling them toward an eternity in hell, while on God’s side, the rope hangs free with no one to pull these 100,730 souls from everlasting torment. Will you join me? Take up this rope in prayer for Satsumasendai City.