Monday, September 6, 2010

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.

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