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Itoman Haaree


Haarii (or haaree in Itoman City, dragon boat races) are festivals for fishermen, who live with danger, to pray for a safe voyage and a good catch and to thank the sea for its blessings. Fishermen compete against each other during haarii in sabani (small dragon-shaped fishing boats). Haarii, which have been held by fishermen in Itoman City and Naha City for hundreds of years, are traditional events celebrated by people who live with the sea. Viewing the haarii of today is like watching the fishermen of old who used to cross the seas of Asia in their small craft.
While most haarii, from Itoman to the northern part of the main island as well as on Amami, Miyako and Yaeyama, are held on May 4 of the lunar calendar, only the Naha Haarii is scheduled earlier, May 3-5, during a succession of national holidays called Golden Week. For the race 11 or 12 crewmembers including oarsmen, a helmsman and a drummer board small fishing boats called sabani. At haarii in other areas, villagers are divided into three groups and compete to win the boat race. The winner is said to be assured of a big catch for the year. Haarii are impressive and exciting because the spirit of the ancient Okinawans, who once maneuvered sabani with their skill and bravery and crossed the mighty ocean, can be felt once again.

The haaree of the fishing village of Itoman is the oldest such race on the island, a traditional, unique festivity that can be seen nowhere else. During the week before the event, at Santimou, a hilly place in the middle of the village, a gong is struck to announce the coming of the haaree. Racers have diligently practiced for 40 days prior to the event, and their determination is clear for all to see. The event features boat races in junior high school, general and foreigners’ categories and three rival areas of Itoman City. The enthusiastic cheers from crowds of spectators reflect the strong local color of uminchu (fishermen). Food stalls and folk music performances spice up the event all the more.

Event: Itoman Haaree
Place: Itoman Fishing Port, Itoman City
Date: June 12, 2013

Events & Festivals >> Itoman Haarii


For inquiries: (office of the Itoman fisherman’s cooperative) 098-992-2011

Part of the Itoman Haaree, the tenpuku haaree, in which participants intentionally capsize their boats in the middle of the race and immediately right them to resume racing.

In Okinawa, tradition blends with the local lifestyle of the present day. Such traditional events embody a strong community bond, one of the island’s distinctive cultural features.

The haaree venue is a place for enthusiastic spectators to eat and drink during the competition.

Catch-the-duck game is one of the main highlights of the Itoman Haaree Festival. Capturing ducks, catching watermelons and exchanging balls are all part of this fun program. Everyone can join in this game and there are prizes to win! All prizes are thrown into the water when the game begins. The prizes, including the ducks that you capture, can be taken home. Be careful not to hurt the ducks! You can also exchange the balls for a sea bream fish.

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Festival schedule:

10:00-15:05 Haaree (dragon boat races)

13:00-13:15 Catch-the-duck

15:40-16:00 Closing ceremony

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A number of haarii festivals are taking place in various places around the island during this time of the year. These festivals are the perfect opportunity to get a true taste of the unique Okinawan culture with friendly locals.

Other haarii festivals in Okinawa

June 12, 2013
Maeganeku Haarii

June 12, 2013
Ou Jima Haarii

June 13, 2013
Minatogawa Haaree 2013

June 16, 2013
The 26th Kadena Haarii

June 23, 2013
Chatan Nirai Haarii

June 30, 2013
Yakena Haarii


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