The Okinawan Festival’s Cultural Tent is a great place to spend several hours of your time at the festival expanding your knowledge of Okinawan culture. The Cultural Tent, which is organized annually by the Hui O Laulima women’s group, will feature an even wider selection of displays and activities this year — and more tent space! Cultural Tent hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday.

One of the many T-shirt designs that will debut this year. (Photos courtesy HUOA)
One of the many T-shirt designs that will debut this year. (Photos courtesy HUOA)

Among the new activities this year will be a performance by keiki who participated in the Warabi Ashibi Okinawan Cultural Day Camp this past summer. The youngsters will dance a song they learned in camp using the paranku drum (small, hand-held drum) they also learned to make at camp.

Another favorite activity is the kimono and paranku dressing and picture taking by a professional photographer (for a fee). It’ll make for a great family or children’s photo for your 2017 holiday card.

Other Cultural Tent highlights include:

• Okinawan Genealogical Society of Hawaii will team up with visiting staff and volunteers (including new Hawai‘i Herald columnist Colin Sewake) from the Okinawa Prefectural Library to help attendees find their Okinawan roots. Visit to download the request form ahead of time. OGSH will also provide database searches on early Okinawan immigrants to Hawai‘i. Bookmarks with common surnames printed in Ryükyüan, Okinawan and Japanese will be available for purchase, as will sales of OGSH’s “Short Stories” and “Talk Stories” collections of personal stories written by Hawai‘i residents. There will also be a display of common household objects that would have been found in a plantation home.

• University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa Center for Okinawan Studies will be sharing information about the Mänoa International Exchange, or MIX, study abroad program with an emphasis on the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa. COS will also be selling “Breaking the Silence: Lessons of Democracy and Social Justice from the World War II Honouliuli Internment and POW Camp in Hawai‘i,” edited by University of Hawai‘i-West O‘ahu Professors Suzanne Falgout and Linda Nishigaya, the Social Process in Hawai‘i volume on the Honouliuli Internment Camp, where many Okinawan prisoners of war were incarcerated in the aftermath of World War II. The center will also be selling other informative books from University of Hawai‘i Press informative books, including “From Okinawa to the Americas” by Hana Yamagawa on the emigration of Okinawans and the “Okinawa-English Wordbook” by the late Dr. Mitsugu Sakihara.

• HUOA Uchinaaguchi Language Class volunteers will be teaching visitors simple phrases in Uchinaaguchi. Resources and materials related to the indigenous languages of the Ryükyü islands will be available, as well as information on HUOA’s Uchinaaguchi class, which is held at the Hawaii Okinawa Center.

Members of Nihon Shuji will demonstrate the art of calligraphy. Visitors can also create their own calligraphy print.
Members of Nihon Shuji will demonstrate the art of calligraphy. Visitors can also create their own calligraphy print.

Hawaii Karate Museum will feature information on the history of karate in Hawai‘i and a display of photos, books and other karate material.

Nihon Shuji (Japan Calligraphy Education Foundation) will be demonstrating the art of calligraphy. Visitors can also create their own calligraphy print.

Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i visitors can decorate a fan with stamp designs and pick up information on the center’s programs.

Hawaii Bonsai Association members will display and sell bonsai plants. They will also provide advice on caring for bonsai plants.


• Machi-Gwa (Country Store): Bring your reusable shopping bags and fill them with fresh, locally grown vegetables, fruits and other delicious treats! The selection of fruits and veggies will include: göya, ginger, daikon (white radish), apple banana, eggplant, cucumber, Okinawan sweet potato and other surprises.

Volunteers will also be selling a festival favorite: the popular andamisu (pork and miso mixture) that is delicious with your favorite Okinawan dish, or just with hot rice. Additionally, Aloha Tofu will be providing healthy treats such as tofu mousse in assorted flavors, yushidofu (fresh soft tofu) and some logo items.

There will also be pickled items such as sambaizuke and takuan as well as yummy baked goods. T-shirts from previous years’ festivals will also be available at discounted prices. And, after all that shopping, cool down with a refreshing reusable mason jar of plantation tea.

• Heiwa Dori: Experience Hawai‘i’s version of Okinawa’s famous Heiwa Dori. Specialty foods from Okinawa will be on sale, such as konbu (dried kelp), göya-cha (bitter melon tea), Okinawa soba noodles, andagi mix, shïkwasa (Okinawan lemon-lime) juice, kokuto (black sugar) candy and more.

• Hanagi Machi Gwa (Plants): Discover a fabulous selection of potted plants and flowers for sale, such as orchids, water lilies, succulents, vegetables (including göya — bitter melon, Okinawan spinach, and Okinawan sweet potato) and fruits. Find the perfect addition for your houseplant collection and outdoor garden!

• Ti Jukuishina-Mushimun (Arts & Crafts Gallery): Explore a wide array of original arts and crafts by local artisans and crafters.

• Capital Campaign Tent: Construction has begun on the Hawaii Okinawa Plaza. Learn more about the project, which aims to secure the financial future of HUOA. Also, participate in the “How to Be More Okinawan” series — 30-minute interactive sessions covering a range of subjects, including: language, dancing kachashi, singing, chanting, stretching, eating and whistling like an Okinawan. Storyteller Alton Chung will share the legend of the shïsa. Check Facebook for schedule.

• Festival T-shirts: Add the 2017 design to your Okinawan Festival T-shirt collection! The 35th Okinawan Festival T-Shirt is available in men’s, men’s tank top, women’s and youth sizes.

• Blue Zones Tent: The Blue Zones Project™ was inspired by the lifestyles of regions in the world with the highest concentration of centenarians. Five Blue Zone areas have been designated: Okinawa Japan; Loma Linda, Calif.; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy and Ikaria, Greece.

In the rural and peaceful village of Ogimi in northern Okinawa and other rural villages in Okinawa, villagers are recognized as being among the healthiest and longest-living people in the civilized world, according to National Geographic magazine. The Blue Zone is a community well-being improvement initiative designed to help people live longer and better by making healthy lifestyle choices easier. The Blue Zones Project has identified nine common traits that contribute to longevity — simple actions like moving naturally, having the right outlook, eating wisely and maintaining positive relationships, which is how early Okinawans lived. Local health insurer HMSA brought the Blue Zones Project was brought to Hawai‘i and is working with communities and worksites to create healthier environments that promote and supports people’s well-being. The Blue Zones tent is an opportunity to learn about healthy cooking, backyard organic gardening and how to elevate our lives and that of our families.


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