Itoman Hari Dragon Boat Races, Okinawa Japan

itoman dragon boat race

For the people of Itoman when the Hare bell on top of Santinmo hill rings the rainy season is over and the great Hare festival begins. Every year in Itoman Okinawa on the 4th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar ( the beginning of June usually) Itoman hosts one of the largest dragon boat races in Okinawa

The Itoman Hare dragon boat race is a fishermen’s festival held to pray for bountiful ocean harvests and safe voyages at sea. At 9:30 am on the first day a parade begins around the Okinawa port of Itoman to start this festival with a long history

The event starts off with participants in their sabani boats racing in the Ugan Bare (boat race of prayer), followed by Itoman's unique Kunukase capsizing race, and the highlight Agaisubu race. In the general entry category there are also novelty events such as duck catching and watermelon gathering races.

There is a legend in Itoman that the day after Hare people who have died at sea have their own dragon boat races. This Hare is called Guso Bare and it is said that on this day people can hear the sounds of rowing and shouts from the ocean despite there being no sign of people out on the ocean fishing. For this reason the day after Hare is a holiday for the fishermen to rest their tired muscles. 

Hare is usually referred to as Hari or Haarii (dragon boat races) in the media. But in this part of Okinawa the people of Itoman keep with tradition and continue to call it Hare. Despite this Okinawa festival taking place on a weekday, the event draws a huge crowds from all over

 

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