In honor of the sea gods the Hari, or Dragon boat, race is held every year in Ishigaki to pray for a bountiful catch of fish. Traditionally, it was only fishermen who competed in the races but they are now open to anyone and many different local businesses send their own teams to compete.
The tradition is believed to be borrowed from China. The colorfully painted wooden boats are called “Sabani” and have been used by Yaeyama fishermen for hundreds of years. In some races, the rowers will flip the boat over on purpose and then quickly roll it over back up again.
Besides the races, there are also live performances and food carts selling yummy snacks and foods.