Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Photo Essay: A Day at the Dragonboat Races

           These photos were taken Jun 5th 2011 at the Onna Son Seaport in Okinawa, Japan
     The boats, called sabani, may have almost anything painted on them (even boobs), not just dragons.
The dragonboat races would start around 9AM. I got there early to catch some of the opening events. 
          A procession of the teams participating in the annual races moves away from the ocean
         and goes to a shrine on a hill.  Packed into a small yard in front of the shrine, they pray.
       The first time you see dragonboats in the water, all three teams are dressed in traditional clothing.
             The rest of the day most of the dragonboat crews are wearing their team t-shirts.
Three boats race, each time, starting at the north end of the port.  They turn at a flag that marks their lane on the southern end and paddle with all their might to be the first boat to complete the round trip.
                     These guys were doing really well, taking the lead on the way home, but
                               took on a little bit too much water and wound up in the drink.
     I know what those dudes passing them were thinking but, can't tell you.  Rhymes with boozers !
     The guys with the rescue team came and got the unfortunates out of the water and saved the boat, too.
 Around noon, there was a break in the routine so, dragonboaters could eat lunch.  These kids put on a show for the crowd and they were amazing.
The west coast of Okinawa has several resort hotels and each one put on some sort of demonstration.
 Then, it was back to dragonboat races and eliminations to see which three teams would make the finals.
           Closing ceremonies consisted of awarding certificates and a case of beer to each team.

This Dragonboat Festival was like no other I have seen on the island Okinawa.  Rather than a big commercial event where everyone is hawking their games and festival foods, there was nothing for sale here, to my knowledge.  It was like a community picnic.  Everyone brought their own tents, grills, coolers and food and shared with everyone else.


The few times I came down off the roof of the building I was shooting from, people who didn't know me were offering food and drinks.


After the closing ceremony, I stopped by the tent of a contact I had made during a previous visit. 

I took a few family photos for him, had a bite to eat and made a customary "kanpai" (cheers) with sake.


Then, I excused myself  because I had to go home and download 375 photos and start developing.


One of my favorite shots, so far, (not done, yet) was a closeup shot I took of the mermaid on the dragonboat above filling the entire frame. But, I'm not sure it's safe to post here because of the boobs. It's like art !

Maybe Facebook, huh?





Post a Comment