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Naha Dragon Boat races highlight Golden Week

Date Posted: 2002-05-03

Saturday marked the beginning of the Japanese holiday season called Golden Week, in Okinawa. This string of holidays is a fun filled time for children and adults that began on April 29, Green Day which commemorates the birthday of the former Emperor Showa, an avid botanist and environmentalist. Since Apr. 29 fell on Monday, that means that workers in many companies get off an unprecedented 10 days in a row.

May 3 is the Constitution Day, celebrating the enactment of the Japanese Constitution. Kokumin no Kyuujitsu, on May 4, serves as an in-between day that connect the holidays. Finally May 5, is the pinnacle of the holiday called "Kodomo no hi," or Children's Day, and since that falls on Sunday, Monday is also a holiday. The day was formerly known as Boys' Day, and it is when colorful carp streamers (koinobori) are raised on poles, each representing a son in the family.

The highlight of the week in Okinawa is known as Naha Harii, or the Dragon Boat Races. The Naha Harii will be held at Aja Port in Naha over a three-day period beginning on Friday. To get to Aja Port drive south past Camp Kinser. After passing Kinser main gate, continue to the second traffic light under the bridge and turn right. Continue straight until you see a container terminal, and turn left into the terminal where you can find free parking. From the terminal you will see the festival grounds near Aja Bridge.

The opening ceremony begins on Friday, May 3, at 10 a.m. on the main stage. There will be a children's sumo wrestling contest, karaoke festival and other entertainment throughout the day, ending with a laser and fireworks display at 8.30 p.m. The main event on Saturday is Miss Naha Beauty Pageant that starts at 4 p.m. The main dragon boat races are held on Sunday, May 5, starting at 1 p.m. with the finals commencing at 5 p.m. The event will end with a hour-long fireworks and laser show starting at 8 p.m.

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