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Haarii Dragon Boat races promise Monday excitement

Date Posted: 2007-06-14

It's dragon boat racing season, as Okinawa honors the kaijin-sai (unjami) traditions that give thanks to the sea gods.

The kaijin-sai goes beyond that, as participants not only say thanks for past blessings, but seek prosperity and safety in future endeavors. Haarii dragon boat races are a core element of the tradition, and virtually every coastal city, town and village has one sometime during the late Spring or Summer season. Many are on schedule Monday, an auspicious date on the lunar calendar.

Itomanís races begin at 9:15 a.m. Monday at Itoman Fishermenís Pier in the Nishizaki area of Itoman City. Haarii races in Ishigaki City, about 275 miles south of Okinawaís main island, begin at 8:30 a.m. Thereís also a Haarii dragon boat race series in nearby Miyako.

Other races include the Aharen races beginning at 10 a.m. at Aharen Beach in Tokashiki Village, about 20 miles west of Naha City. Oijima Kaijin-sai takes place on the small Oijima island 7.5 miles southeast of Naha City beginning at 11 a.m., while a 1 p.m. start time is set for Ie Islandís Upuguchi Beach, about six miles from Motobu.
Additional races take place at Minatogawa in Yaese and Tonaki.

Itís Fatherís Day weekend as well, and specials abound to honor dadís on their extra special day. Check the Japan Update events column for details of live concerts in Live Houses, to special lunches and resorts, to even a Fatherís Day bullfighting tournament in the Ishikawa Dome bullfighting arena.

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