The Naha Dragon Boat Race, aka the "Hari", is a festival to pray for a rich catch and safety at sea. The Hari refers to the boat used in the race that was introduced to Okinawa through China during the Ryukyu Dynasty roughly 600 years ago. The boat race is held in ports all over Okinawa generally on May 4th (on the old lunar calendar), however the Naha Dragon Boat Race was moved to the consecutive holiday season so as to accommodate tourists. Also, many of the regional dragon boat races use small-scale row boats called Sabani, however the Naha version uses large-scale boats much longer than the Sabani.
On the opening day, races include battles between Naha City middle schoolers and a few battles amongst working-class adults. On the second day, boats are open for the general audience to experience riding, while on the third and last day the main events are held, including the Ritual Prayer Hari and the Main Hari.
Besides the boat races, there is also a wealth of entertainment including comedic performances, live music, sumo wrestling, firework displays and much more.
The "Ugan" or Ritual Prayer Hari and the Main "Hon" Hari include traditional costumes worn by the rowers themselves. It is a serious face-off between the three regions of Naha, Kume and Tomari. For the Ritual Prayer Hari that is held first, boats slowly travel the course putting on a traditional show including songs and gongs. Then finally comes Main Hari, where teams compete for the title, covering a full distance of 600 meters.
Races are held on the first and last day, but on the second day (4th) boats are opened for the general public to experience the Hari. It is recommended that you come early since it is very popular and long lines are expected. English, Chinese and Korean interpreters are available for these hands-on experiences only. Held between 11:00am and 3:00pm. It is free to board the boats and reservations are not needed.
Picture provided by Naha City
Please smoke at the designated smoking areas.
Children who have not entered Elementary School are not permitted to ride the boats.
Access to Naha City
Miebashi Monorail Station
Address: The New Naha Port Futo, Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture
20min walk from the Miebashi Monorail Station