Friday, September 17, 2010

Cheer Leaders


Cheer Leaders
Originally uploaded by graffkeith
The Ungami, sometimes pronounced "Unjami," Matsuri or festival is held each August in tiny Shioya, part of the Ogimi Village governmental unit along Okinawa's northwestern coast.

Shioya is a beautiful little fishing village with a large back bay. This protected bay offers the locals a unique opportunity to hold boat races in traditional "sabani" boats, often used for "Hari" or dragon boat races. It is also one of the premire sites in Japan for sculling.

The festival is noted for it's prayer rituals. Prayers are primarily the duty of the women and every other year, they hold special "Women Only" prayer vigils in sacred groves.

But each and every year the festival is climaxed with a traditional Hari race. Unlike othher Hari races in Okinawa, in Shioya, at the finish line, the women will don traditional garb and enter the water to bang drums, dance and cheer on their favorite team of racers.

The women formed themselves into three groups and cheered on the participants in the Hari races. From what I can tell, this is unique to the village of Shioya. While it may have been comonplace in other locations in times past, Shioya is the only village where the practice is still done routinely.

Hit Parade


Hit Parade
Originally uploaded by graffkeith
Shioya is a beautiful little fishing village with a large back bay. This protected bay offers the locals a unique opportunity to hold boat races in traditional "sabani" boats, often used for "Hari" or dragon boat races. It is also one of the premire sites in Japan for sculling.

The festival is noted for it's prayer rituals. Prayers are primarily the duty of the women and every other year, they hold special "Women Only" prayer vigils in sacred groves.

But each and every year the festival is climaxed with a traditional Hari race. Unlike othher Hari races in Okinawa, in Shioya, at the finish line, the women will don traditional garb and enter the water to bang drums, dance and cheer on their favorite team of racers.

Women of the village dressed in traditional garb marched and danced their way to the waterfront.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Missed Opportunity


Missed Opportunity
Originally uploaded by graffkeith
This photo was also taken at the Ungami Festival in Shioya, Okinawa, Japan. Admittedly this was not one of my best shots but, come to think of it, it wasn't one of this poor slob's best photos either! The sun had just darted behind the clouds as they came around the corner. Since I shoot in "Manual Mode" almost all the time, I just didn't quite have my settings right for my own taste.

With the prayers on the hillside finished, the villagers were moving on down the road to the next ceremony and the starting point for the boat races later in the day. Unfortunately for one cameraman, he was so focussed on the boat team gathered in front of him that he missed the village elder being carried down the hill in a formal procession.

Damn Tourists


Damn Tourists
Originally uploaded by graffkeith
This is a picture of a prayer shrine on a hillside above a small village in Okinawa Japan. Everyone is gathered to take part in a prayer ceremony or "Ungami" before the days events kick off. Ungami, sometimes pronounced "Unjami," Matsuri or festival is held each August in tiny Shioya, part of the Ogimi Village governmental unit along Okinawa's northwestern coast.

Shioya is a beautiful little fishing village with a large back bay. This protected bay offers the locals a unique opportunity to hold boat races in traditional "sabani" boats, often used for "Hari" or dragon boat races. It is also one of the premire sites in Japan for sculling.

The festival is noted for it's prayer rituals. Prayers are primarily the duty of the women and every other year, they hold special "Women Only" prayer vigils in sacred groves.

But each and every year the festival is climaxed with a traditional Hari race. Unlike othher Hari races in Okinawa, in Shioya, at the finish line, the women will don traditional garb and enter the water to bang drums, dance and cheer on their favorite team of racers.

Ryukyu Mike (in the foreground with the blue "wife-beater" T-shirt) and I had got here early and painstakingly  positioned ourselves where the light was right and then set up our cameras to get some shots of the prayer session.

By the time everything finally got underway, we were besieged by a host of amature cameramen and women, mostly terrorists aka. tourists from mainland Japan who didn't even bother to notice, let alone care, that we were there first.

Frustrated by their rudeness, we took a couple of shots from different angles (this one included) and left back down to the waterfront where there was some shade and a nice breeze that made it a bit cooler and more confortable.

Happy Obaa


Happy Obaa
Originally uploaded by graffkeith
The Ungami, sometimes pronounced "Unjami," Matsuri or festival is held each August in tiny Shioya, part of the Ogimi Village governmental unit along Okinawa's northwestern coast.

Okinawa's indiginous religion is called "So-Sen-Su-Hai" and is a form of ancestor's worship that incorporates a little bit of Taoism, Shamanism, Buddhism with a couple of other "ism's" thrown in for good measure. This festival is noted for it's prayer rituals. Prayers are primarily the duty of the women and every other year, they hold special "Women Only" prayer vigils in sacred groves.

The village elder, a 94 years young lady was for lack of a better way of putting it, the Master of Ceremonies for this prayer session. Here we caught her giving us just a little hint of a smile.

Though they drove her up the hill to the shrine, she still was able to navigate the incline and steps with minimal assistance. Okinawan's are noted for their longevity. My guess is this old gal will be with us for a few more festivals.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Practice makes Perfect


Practice makes Perfect
Originally uploaded by graffkeith
The Ungami, sometimes pronounced "Unjami," Matsuri or festival is held each August in tiny Shioya, part of the Ogimi Village governmental unit along Okinawa's northwestern coast.

Shioya is a beautiful little fishing village with a large back bay. This protected bay offers the locals a unique opportunity to hold boat races in traditional "sabani" boats, often used for "Hari" or dragon boat races. It is also one of the premire sites in Japan for sculling.

The festival is noted for it's prayer rituals. Prayers are primarily the duty of the women and every other year, they hold special "Women Only" prayer vigils in sacred groves.

But each and every year the festival is climaxed with a traditional Hari race. Unlike othher Hari races in Okinawa, in Shioya, at the finish line, the women will don traditional garb and enter the water to bang drums, dance and cheer on their favorite team of racers.

With the two boats from their teams launched, the men work on getting their timming down as well as work on their style. The boat on the left is manned by the older men of the village while the smaller boat on the right is manned by the younger men and boys.

Launch


Launch
Originally uploaded by graffkeith
The Ungami, sometimes pronounced "Unjami," Matsuri or festival is held each August in tiny Shioya, part of the Ogimi Village governmental unit along Okinawa's northwestern coast.




Shioya is a beautiful little fishing village with a large back bay. This protected bay offers the locals a unique opportunity to hold boat races in traditional "sabani" boats, often used for "Hari" or dragon boat races. It is also one of the premire sites in Japan for sculling.

The festival is noted for it's prayer rituals. Prayers are primarily the duty of the women and every other year, they hold special "Women Only" prayer vigils in sacred groves.

But each and every year the festival is climaxed with a traditional Hari race. Unlike othher Hari races in Okinawa, in Shioya, at the finish line, the women will don traditional garb and enter the water to bang drums, dance and cheer on their favorite team of racers.

At one of the three sub-villages that make up Shioya village, the locals perform a ceremony and bless the boats with Okinawan Awamori Sake. In this picture they are launching the smaller of two boats. This one will be manned by the younger men and boys of the village and raced against by the other two sub-village teams.