East team wins Ojima Island’s dragon boat race

East team wins Ojima Island's dragon boat race

On June 23, on Ojima Island in Tamagusuku, Nanjo, pleased with victory, rowers lift their boat up.

June 26, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On June 23, in the waters off Ojima Island, Tamagusuku in Nanjo, the Watatsumi Festival with its dragon-boat race was held. Many visitors from both on and off the island cheered on the oarsmen.

The main dragon boat race is decided by the outcome of the best of seven races such as Ugan-barley, in which local residents are divided into East and West teams to compete, and the nagare-bune in which the rowers dive off a bridge to start the race. This year, the East team won with five wins and two losses. At each race, the winner’s oarsmen lifted their boat up in a show of joy. After the main dragon boat race, there were races held for people competing in workplace teams.

About 400 years ago, China presented a Kannon statue to the island’s residents as a display of gratitude for their having helped shipwrecked Chinese crews. People began to pray for prosperity on the island, safe journeys at sea and large catches to the Kannon-do temple to which the statue is dedicated, and it is said that this was the origin of the dragon boat races of Ojima Island. Before the main race started, Ward Chief Masatsune Ashitomi prayed at the temple.

(English translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)

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