Introduced from China around the 14th century, Naha Hārī (Dragon Boat) races have been one of the highlights of the island’s cultural life ever since. A festival of national importance during the Ryūkyū Kingdom Era, it was revived in 1975 after a 50 years hiatus to celebrate the reversion of Okinawa to mainland Japan. It still takes places each year on May 3-5, attracting 200 000 visitors over the course of three days.
Naha’s Hārī are 15m racing boats who can fit up a crew of 32 rowers, 2 gong players, 2 helmsmen and 6 flag bearers. Their hull is carved and painted to picture a Chinese dragon. Each race has three teams compete in a 400m time trial. The first day is mostly devoted to the much followed junior high-school tournament, while the second is for visitors to try to ride the boats. The regular races on May 5 feature corporate and area-sponsored teams from all over the island.
Before the last and most important race (“hon-bārī“) between the port’s historic teams, a ritual called ugan-bārī is performed. Each team dressed in traditional garment circles the wharf while a prayer to the sea divinity is sung. The winner of the last race is declared the champion for this year.
Apart from the boat racing, festival goers can also enjoy live music and comedy at one of the two outdoor stages, as well as sumo wrestling, student wrestling and even a dance contest. Each day will end with a firework over the wharf.
May 3 (Fri.)
10:00-17:45 Junior High School Tournament – Adult team races (general)
10:00-17:00 Sumo wrestling – Sub-stage
May 4 (Sat.)
10:45-12:00 and 12:45-15:30 Dragon boat ride for Visitors
May 5 (Sun.)
10:40-16:40 Adult team races
11:30-12:00 Naha City Campaign Lady Award Ceremony – Main stage
13:30-14:30 Ryūkyū Dragon Wrestling show – Square
16:40-17:10 Ugan-bari, Hon-bari
Every day: Stage events and concerts. Firework starts at 20:40.
Access and Information
Location: Naha Shinko Wharf
〒900-0001, 1 Chome-14 Minatomachi, Naha, Okinawa 900-0001
(Until May 2) Naha City Tourism Association 098-862-1442
(May 3 to 5) Hari Executive Committee 098-861-0071
10 minute-walk from Tomari Takahashi bus stop
(From Naha bus terminal: take bus #20, 23, 24, 24, 28, 29, 63, 77, 110, or 120)
Please contact bus companies for details:
Ryukyu Bus Company 098-852-2530
Okinawa Bus Company 098-861-0385