Enjoy It In May and June! 5 Places to Enjoy Okinawa’s Ocean Festival, Hari
The biggest event in Okinawa in May and June is the Hari festival. It's an ancient festival in which teams compete in a regatta on the wide seas. Here are 5 times Hari will be held around the main island of Okinawa!
What is Hari?
Hari is an ancient Okinawa ritual that is also called "Hare" in the area of Itoman. It's a festival to pray for a bountiful catch and safe sailing, and it was held throughout the prefecture on May 4th of the old calendar with some exceptions. It's an exciting festival that is made up of a regatta using traditional fishing boats called "sabani" (fishing boat made of planks) or "haryusen" (dragon-shaped boats).
It was originally a festival for fishermen, but now it's a festival that anyone can participate in. There is a race dedicated to a deity called Uganbari, as well as teams made up of people like youth groups or company teams, all passionate races worth seeing.
1. Itoman Hare
Itoman Hare is a festival that has about 500 years of history. Itoman, in the southern part of the main island, is one of Okinawa's most famous fishing ports, and the Hare is held on the western coast of the city.
The must-see sight is the Honbari, when the competitors dress in traditional outfits. Other than the Uganbari, there's the impressive race called Agaisubu where the racers row with incredible speed, and the Kunnukase race where the boat capsizes halfway through and the rowers have to upright it and go back to rowing.
Between the races is a duck hunting competition that anyone can participate in. It's a very popular program where people get in the water to capture the 30 ducks released there.
To be held on Monday, May 29, 2017
2. Meijo Hari
Meijo Hari is a festival held on the west coast of Itoman on Kita-Meijo Beach. It's held at the beautiful white sandy beach, so you can watch it in a very Okinawa-like area.
This Hari is known for its goal. The team that wins must row their boat into the open sea from the beach, return to the beach, and then grab a liquor bottle hanging from a tree. Other than the Uganbari, there are races where regular people and children can participate in. After the Hari, there's a parade throughout the town where youth perform a dance dedicated to the deities.
To be held on Monday, May 29th, 2017
3. Kenken Hari Tournament
The Kenken Hari Tournament is held on the Sunday following May 4th on the old calendar in Hamasaki Fishing Port in Motobu, on the northern part of the main island.
Prayers are offered in front of the hokora (a small wayward shrine), then the Uganbari is held. In the afternoon, there's the Asobi Hari ("Play Hari"), in which various races such as the Chibikko Hari in which children compete as well as the Nendaibetsu Taiou Hari in which youth groups and fire brigades compete are held. There's also the Taiken Hari, where you can participate on a whim, so please try it!
To be held on Sunday, June 4, 2017
4. Naha Hari
Naha Hari has a history of about 600 years and is the biggest Hari in the prefecture. It's held every May 3 to 5 in Naha Tomari Port, and other than the Hari, they also have events on the specially installed stage, fireworks, and food stalls, for a lively atmosphere.
The biggest draw is the Uganbari and Honbari held on the last day. The Uganbari has a solemn atmosphere brought about by the people wearing traditional clothing, singing Hari songs, and performing karate dances while the boat leisurely travels back and forth. On the other hand, the Honbari is an exciting and impressive race that decides that year's winner.
For those that want to ride a Hari boat, you can try the boat riding activity on the 2nd day. On the first day, there are Hari for middle school aged children.
Will be held between Wednesday, May 3, and Friday, May 5, 2017
5. Unjami Maeganeku Hari
Onna-son is an area that's very popular as a resort area, and the Unjami Maeganeku Hari is held in that area's Maeganeku Port. It's a festival with close to 100 years of history.
Prayers are offered at shrines, then the Uganbari is held. The most exciting time is the Shokuiki Hari, in which teams like youth groups and company teams compete. There are also races like the Tenpuku Kyouso ("capsizing regatta") and the Agari Hari in which people middle school age and above can compete. There are also jet ski demonstrations and food stalls to enjoy.
Will be held on Monday, May 29, 2017
*Photo is for illustration purposes
Depending on the area, the details of the Hari change: days held, programs, rules on sudden participation, etc. The areas Hari is held in range from huge areas to cozy places, so please find and participate in the Hari or Hare you like best.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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