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okinawa scrap book
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by Yuukiti Yamazato
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The 16th Annual Naha Hahri Boat Races
May, 1990 - included teams from various schools, civic and business organizations and U.S.
military teams from all branches.The custom of Hahri racing dates back several centuries to
ancient China. The legend can be traced to the death of Kutsugen, a Chinese poet. A virtuous
and patriotic man, he died 2,300 years ago at the age of 66. He was well respected and loved
and honored by his people. It is because of his death by drowning that these races evolved.
Kutsugen drowned within the sight of many of his admirers. People on the shore quickly put
their boats to sea in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue him. The boatment began to blame
themselves for his death, saying he might have survived had they been faster with the oars.
They began training to improve their speed and the Hahri boat races were born in memory of the
legendary scholar.The boats are approximately 14.5 meters in length, have a draft .72 meters
long and are 2.1 meters wide. Boats can weigh up to TWO tons! The crew consists of forty-two
people and the emphasis is on teamwork. There are sixteen starboard and sixteen port rowers,
two gong sounders, two helmsmen, three flagmen, two central riders and one singer of the
traditional Hahri song.
Adapted from "This Week on Okinawa," April 25 - May 2, 1990
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