The Fisherman’s Hari Festival
Throughout May and June, areas all over Okinawa hold the popular Hari Festival, also known as Hare depending on the area.
The festival was introduced from China about 600 years ago and became a Shinto festival to pray for a bountiful harvest and the safety of fishermen, known as ‘uminchu’.
For those who go to Okinawa during Golden Week, the ‘Naha Hari’ is a must-see.
With over 200,000 spectators every year, this is the largest Hari within the prefecture.
The main part of the Naha Hari is the dragon boats which are large boats painted with the image of a dragon.
These dragon boats hold 42 members made up of 32 rowers, 2 bell ringers, 2 helmsmen and 2 flag bearers, and the competition is so fierce even the passion of the supporters can be felt.
In prefectures outside of Naha, traditional Okinawan fishing boats known as ‘sabani’ are also a sight to see at the Hari, which takes place on the day before, the day of and the day after May 4 of the lunar calendar.
These are smaller than the dragon boats and faster due to their slim design.
One of the charms of the Hari is that even though they are essentially the same, they are all different depending on the area.
There is also an event where tourists can participate as rowers, so don’t miss the chance to give it go!
It is said that once the bell announcing the start of the Hari rings out, rainy season has begun and summer has officially arrived in Okinawa.