Japan, Karate, Karate Masters Portrait Project, Okinawa, Pentax 645D, Photography, Sony A7RIV
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Dragon boats are back!

After a four-year hiatus, the dragon boats are once again racing during the Golden Week holidays.

Friday afternoon had the finals of the regular races with the boats crews made up of both locals and Americans. The sky was overcast, but luckily it was not raining on the day.

After these races the special dragon boat race took place, which the crews in traditional costume, along with flag bearers and karateka.

I’m not sure of the names of the sensei performing with the black-robed crew, or the blue-robed crew, but the white-robed crew was led by Onaga Sensei, a karate master I’ll be photographing in the coming weeks.

Checking back through my archives I found a pic from 2011 when I actually managed to get in one of the boats for a race. Can’t believe I was shooting with a medium format digital camera, in the rain, on a boat that might sink!

After going further back in the archvies, I found images shot with the Pentax 67ii medium format film camera around 20 years ago. Looks like a beautiful sunny day as the colours really pop. Interestingly this angle, from opposite side of the port, is now blocked off to spectators so glad I got the shots back then.

A portrait of Nobuhide Higa. ( Matsubayashi Ryu 10th dan.), Naha City, Okinawa, Japan.

Back in the halcyon days of film, I also shot a portrait of a dragon boat participant who many years later I would discover was the karate master Nobuhide Higa.

Naha City’s dragon boat races, known locally as the Naha Haari usually take place each year, so if you missed them be sure to check it out in Golden Week 2024.

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