Okinawa's Sabani Sailing People

Bringing Traditional Seafaring Back to Life

Michael Lynch   によって

The sabani of Okinawa are traditional, wooden boats, most English-speakers know as dragon boats. They may be seen at festivals, throughout the spring and summer months, being paddled by teams racing along many seaports.

Only a few times each year, the sabani sailboats can be seen. They race in the sea, sailing and paddling, far from any ports.

Prior to every event, they conduct a beach cleanup. The men and women participating in this sport, are enthusiastic and dedicated to saving an old, traditional form of seafaring. It begs the question: Where do these sabani people come from?

These photos taken at the 2013 Itoman Mayor's Cup Sabani Race, give an idea where members of the teams may be found working.



Michael Lynch

Michael Lynch @michael.lynch

A photographerwriter published at CNN Travel, Yahoo, Matador Network, Apogee Photo Magazine, Pocket Cultures and several other online sites. Also known as RyukyuMike, reside in the Ryukyu Islands. See what I'm up-to daily at