Repaired sabani sails again – Itoman Uminchu workshop

Repaired sabani sails again - Itoman Uminchu workshop

The members of the refurbishing team rowing the sabani on April 29 at the Itoman Northern Fishing Port, Itoman Town.

May 12, 2011 by Hideyoshi Tamahose, a correspondent of the Ryukyu Shimpo

The launching ceremony, or shinaurushi in the Okinawan dialect, of a traditional Okinawan fishing boat known as a sabani, was held at the Itoman Northern Fishing Port in Itoman Town on April 29. The sabani was in very poor condition with cracks and holes in its wooden hull when the Itoman Uminchu workshop took possession of it from a souvenir shop. Driven by a desire to preserve the cultural heritage that the boat represented and to pass it on to the next generation, boat-builder 61 year-old Kiyoshi Oshiro and his friends, also members of the workshop, took two and a half months to completely repair it to a state in which it looks as though it is brand new.

“It looked really battered, but by using a plane to make the wooden hull smooth we managed to bring the boat back to life. We are thrilled that it went well in the water,” said Oshiro.

Ken Uehara, 67 year-old representative of the workshop, said, “I never thought that we would get it to look this good. Oshiro-san’s involvement was crucial in our success. When we took it out on the water it was really stable and it will be great for people to experience what going out on the sea in a sabani is like.”

In the shinaurushi ceremony attended by some fifty people, Uehara prayed for the safety of the new sabani. After purifying it with sacred sake, the boat was put out on the water so they could check how it handled.

“There was not as much shaking as we thought there would be. It moved smoothly and was comfortable in the nice breeze,” said 34-year-old Noriko Fukushima said with a smile.

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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