Zamami Village enjoys a number of unique events throughout the year. Among such events are those that reflect the village’s deep historic and cultural roots while others offer new ways to enjoy subtropical island life. The list below provides an overview of the village’s annual events from religious festivals to performances by professional musicians. Lastly, the Zamami Times (link on the right) lists the information of upcoming events a month or so before they occur.
・・・Beach Opening Ceremony (mid-April)
Although Zamami’s waters are warm enough for marine activities year-round, the village holds a beach-opening ceremony that includes free local seafood and performances by the school students. Organizers and those in attendance hope for a year free from accident.
Held on March 3 of the lunisolar calendar and in conjunction with “Shimi” (one of Okinawa’s three main religious festivals), Hamauri and its rituals are intended to pray for the health and happiness of the village’s women. The islands’ women go to the beach with sacred drink and elaborate boxes of food which they offer to the elder priestesses. The priestesses then pray for the health and happiness of the women before singing a set of songs to which the girls and women in attendance dance in unison. Later in the day, boats from Zamami Island form a large, parade circle in the waters between the islands before returning to the port for continued parading. Those on board play the sanshin and drums while everyone dances and enjoys a good time. Lucky visitors sometimes get the chance to board one of the vessels and join in the festivities.
・・・Rainy Season Begins (around the end of Golden Week)
・・・Rainy Season Ends (mid-Jun.)
・・・Sabani Race (usually last weekend in Jun.)
Sabani are traditional Okinawan vessels akin to sail-fitted dragon boats. Zamami Village is host to one of the largest sabani races with over 30 teams from around Japan and even abroad. The Marilyn Cup is held on Saturday and teams race between Zamami’s various islands. Sunday is the main race during which teams forge the straights between Zamami and Okinawa Island. The almost 40-kilometer race takes hours for even the fastest teams. The Sunday race features an exciting dash start on Furuzamami Beach. The entire weekend provides lucky visitors with a set of unique sights for an unforgettable trip.
・・・Zamami Yacht Race (usually first weekend in Jul.)
Zamami Village hosts the oldest yacht race in Japan. Over thirty vessels divided among three classes race from Okinawa Island’s Ginowan Marina to Zamami Port. The race provides visitors with picturesque scenes. During the day visitors can experience what it’s like aboard a yacht, and in the evening is a party and award ceremony in the port with food, drink, and entertainment.
・・・Zamami Festival (3rd Saturday in Aug.)
Perhaps the village’s largest party of the year, the Zamami Festival is Zamami Island’s summer festival. Ferries and guesthouses are usually booked full, and the port is packed for the evening party. Local restaurants line the venue and sell food, drinks, and souvenirs. Islanders put on a variety of performances for all those in attendance. The night is capped off with a 5-minute professional firework show.
・・・Aka-Geruma Festival (mid-Sept.)
With a much more local atmosphere than the Zamami Festival, the Aka-Geruma Festival offers those lucky to be in attendance the rare opportunity to to become an islander for the night. The main feature of the festival is the ongoing “bon” dance more typical of neighborhood summer festivals on the Japanese mainland. Many locals make a point to wear yukata (a light summer kimono) to the event. As the sun sets in the background everybody in attendance joins in the dancing and festivities, often continuing well into the night. There are various food items from yakisoba to hot dogs and of course plenty of drinks.
Held on August 20 of the lunisolar calendar, Umi-Ugan is a religious festival. The festival first serves as thanks for the previous year. Umi-Ugan also serves as a prayer for another year of safety at sea and among households as well as bountiful harvests of crops and catches of fish. Various rites are performed in front of “Ibi-nu-Me,” a shrine in the Zamami Hamlet dedicated to the god of the sea. A procession that starts from Ibi-nu-Me is lead by the well-known Okinawan religious figure “Miruku.” Various “eisa” drum-dance performances are held throughout town, and visitors can even enjoy a dragon boat race in the port. As an important religious event, those in attendance must adhere to the instructions of local officials.
・・・Just great weather and warm waters.
The entire month of November is fan appreciation month in Zamami Village. The Zamami Village Diving Association holds parties in the port every Saturday night of the month. The parties are put on entirely by the locals as an effort to express thanks to all of Zamami’s fans around the world. Each party features performances by the islanders themselves. Restaurants line the venue with stalls selling food and drink.
Fan Appreciation month also features both a treasure hunt and photo contest on land and in the sea. November has some of the best weather of the year.
・・・Whale watching season begins at the end of December
・・・Peak whale watching season (until end of March).
・・・Peak whale watching season (until end of March)
・・・Whale Watching Panel Exhibit (Zamami & Aka Ports)
・・・Whale Music Festival (last weekend in Mar.)
The Whale Music Festival is one of Zamami Village’s premier events of the year. The music festival features well-known artists from Okinawa and the Japanese mainland. With warm weather and quality music, the Whale Music Festival offers the rare opportunity to enjoy professional entertainment in a national-park paradise.