2021 Virtual Okinawan Festival

The Hawaii United Okinawa Association’s (HUOA) popular Okinawan Festival will sadly be virtual again this year but we’re still excited for it. They also have a t-shirt design contest going on that ends July 19th (check out their website for more details). Looks like for this year they’ll even be doing smaller in-person events and we loved the Okinawan FEASTival from last year so it’s great that they’re continuing it. This year it will take place on September 4th and 5th so be sure to subscribe to their YouTube channel to catch the virtual festivities.

We learned a lot in 2020 as we created our first ever Virtual Okinawan Festival. This year, we will continue our virtual format for the continued safety of our community. HUOA will continue to strive to bring you the best our culture has to offer with all the entertainment, singing, dancing, interviews and fun videos from the comfort of your own home. We will also be celebrating Okinawan FEASTival and encourage you to pre-order food from your favorite Okinawan-owned restaurant.  

In an effort to elevate the experience, we will also have a number of drive-through food orders and small in-person events. Be sure to check with your HUOA club and this website for more details.

https://www.okinawanfestival.com

They also have a presale for this year’s festival merchandise at https://shophuoa.com. Presale ends July 24th so don’t miss out!

(h/t JTB USA Honolulu)

HIFF Eat.Drink.Film 2021 Showcase Series

Shogen 尚玄

No, we’re not getting a film from Okinawa but we do have an actor from Okinawa who is starring in director Yoshida Kota’s Sexual Drive. Fashion model and actor Shogen stars in the film and many may recognize him as Raye Penber from the 2015 Death Note TV series. He has an impressive filmography and is currently in the Philippines to finish filming Gensan Punch.

A Japanese triptych about sex, aphrodisiac foods and secret desires.

via IFFR 2021
“Sexual Drive” trailer

Sexual Drive will be available for streaming from June 10-20. It’s not my kind of film but I’ll likely watch it for Shogen.

Hawaii’s KIKU-TV RIP

You may have heard a rumor that KIKU will stop airing Japanese and Filipino programming soon.

Unfortunately, the rumor is true.

Starting Monday, June 28, 2021, KIKU and other stations owned by RNN National, LLC will air ShopHQ 24/7.

via the station’s FB page

Definitely sad news to hear that KIKU-TV will no longer show Asian programming. The station brought us NHK’s Red & White Song Festival every year (well, up to 2019’s edition of the show) as well as NHK’s Taiga drama (probably how many saw Ryukyu no Kaze — yes, in spite of how Japanese it was). There was a time when they also broadcasted Okinawa’s folk music red & white song festival (Shinshun Minyou Kouhaku Uta-gassen). The channel will definitely be missed.

Freshly Made Spam & Egg Onigiri at Potama

Potama Waikiki

I recently went to check out a restaurant chain from Okinawa that has a location in Waikiki (Honolulu, Hawaii) called Potama (short for Pork Tamago Onigiri). In Okinawa, pork usually refers to pork luncheon meat that’s made by Hormel (Spam) or by Tulip. Hawaii has a similar popular local food called Spam musubi that’s readily available at convenience stores and some restaurants so I was curious to eat at Potama which is made fresh after ordering and includes an egg (tamago) with several topping choices.

The Potama Waikiki is located in the Royal Hawaiian Center’s Waikiki Food Hall which is a couple minute walk from the center’s regular food court. Before heading out to the restaurant, I had already picked out a few choices that were exclusive to Hawaii only to learn that only a limited menu was being served for now (likely due to the pandemic). The Hawaii-exclusive items are: Loco Moco, Garlic Shrimp, Fried Green Tomato Wasabi Tartar, mochiko chicken, and mac salad (the last two items aren’t onigiri). Sadly, none of these were being offered. Outside of the Hawaii-exclusive items, the ones that feature Okinawan food is next on my list and while they do have Abura Miso (andansuu) they don’t have Goya Tempura (we’ve been told it’s coming). So if you do head out there, be sure to check out their current menu on the Waikiki Food Hall page instead of their official website.

I ended up getting the regular Po-tama (yeah, I know it’s basically a Spam musubi with an egg), Andansuu (Abura Miso), Cheese Ketchup, French fries, and iced green tea drink. I’ll definitely be checking the place out again when they have more menu items available. I’m looking to try their Goya Tempura, a couple of the Hawaii-exclusive items, mac salad, Sanpin Tea with Shikwasa drink, and either the iced or hot coffee if it’s from Chatan Coffee. Gori did a review of their Makishi location on his YouTube channel.

Gori (Garage Sale) Visits Potama Makishi

Follow Potama on Twitter. Potama’s website (available in English).

#OkinawanEats #OkiEats

Uchinanchu are lucky to live Hawaii as we have many Okinawan-owned restaurants and businesses. During the pandemic, many of these businesses have been hit hard so let’s do our best to help them and others too. The Okinawan FEASTival website has a list of places to support and keeps a Google Sheet with up-to-date information for what’s open or closed.

Here’s an excerpt from their website:

We are extremely lucky to have so many Okinawan dishes regularly available for us to eat. Not just for a special week but ALL YEAR. Okinawan dishes were not on regular menus but added on by request. The owners thought Okinawan food would not sell. If we don’t regularly order these dishes, then it will prove it’s not worth it to keep on menus. 😦 We need to prove that wrong! 

https://www.hawaiiokinawans.com/okinawan-dishes

I’ve been fortunate to have visited many of these places in the past so it’s definitely time to make my rounds again. Maybe I’ll see some of you out there. 🙂

Honolulu-Naha Sister City 60th Anniversary (Hawaii)

History of Okinawan immigration begins in January 1900, when the first 26 migrants from Okinawa arrived in Hawai‘i to seek better lives for themselves and their descendants. Now Hawai‘i residents of Okinawa ancestry number approximately 50,000, one of the largest ethnic groups in Hawai‘i.  Okinawan workers faced significant discrimination when they arrived, but they successfully created a life for themselves and their descendants. Okinawans (Uchinanchu) are proud of their distinct culture, independence, and legacy in Hawai`i. The Hawai‘i Okinawa Center is one of the largest cultural centers in Hawai‘i and the annual Okinawan Festival is one of the largest ethnic community events on O‘ahu.

Link to article

Sixteen rainbow shower trees were planted at the Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park (it’s actually across the street from the Hawaii Okinawa Center HUOA). The grove of rainbow shower trees can be found near the southern entrance of the park and hopefully I’ll be able to share a photo of it one day.

One thing I have wondered is why rainbow shower trees (in Okinawa they have the golden shower trees). Although I wasn’t able to find its significance in Okinawa, the tree has cultural importance in Thailand and the Philippines.

Event: 3rd Eisa Drum Festival at Kapi’olani Community College on May 11th

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3rd Eisa Drum Festival at Kapi’olani Community College on May 11th
A Celebration of Okinawan Culture with Drums, Lions, Music, and Karate

Kapi’olani Community College and the Office of Student Activities are pleased to present the third Eisa Drum Festival on Saturday, May 11 from 5:30 to 9 pm, on the Great Lawn (center of campus). The outdoor festival brings together ‘ono food prepared by Kapi’olani CC culinary program and the spectacular art form of taiko performed amid the beauty of Diamond Head under the stars. The program begins at 6 pm. The event is free and open to the public, with ample parking on campus.

Performers include Chinagu Eisa Hawai’i, Hawai’i Okinawa Creative Arts, Hawai’i Taiko Kai, Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate and Urizun Minyo Group. This year’s festival also features special guest performers from Okinawa, including Daiichi Hirata, acclaimed producer, choreographer, and musician, as well as members of Requios, the 2012 World Eisa Competition winner.

Eisa is a form of dance and drumming unique to the people of Okinawa. Originally performed as part of a religious function honoring those who have passed, modern Eisa is an exhilarating combination of singing, chanting, dancing and drumming. In Okinawa and Hawai’i, Eisa continues to be performed at Bon Dances. This year’s festival will feature contemporary styles of drumming, with Okinawan taiko, karate, lions, and contemporary folk music.

“The first two festivals have been described as ‘magical’ and we hope to continue that tradition in our third year,” said Shari Tamashiro, Kapi’olani CC Cybrarian, and one of the coordinators of the festival. “We’re also very pleased to have celebrity chef instructor Grant Sato and Kapi’olani CC’s famous culinary program managing the food booths.”

“The bringing together of Island People, Daiichi Hirata from Okinawa and Kawika Napoleon from Hawai’i, was so dynamic. . . it brought forth a sense of joy and pride from within,” said Dorene Niibu of Windard CC.

“When I think of Eisa Fest, I think of it as the first major event of the summer,” said Jonathan Wong, faculty member at Kapi’olani CC. “To me, it signals that summer is here and what better way to start the summer off with a bang than with drums, food, music and stars.”

Enjoy an evening under the stars. Bring lawn chairs to sit on, blankets, and jackets. Up to date information on program, schedule, parking, maps, and food items on sale will be posted at http://www.facebook.com/eisahawaii. Alcohol is strictly prohibited at the event.

To see videos of the 2nd Eisa Festival, go to: http://bit.ly/17quWKz. For photos, go to: http://smu.gs/Z4Mpbj.

Event: Special Eisa Concert: Naha Daiko & Chinagu Eisa Hawaii with Singer Ikeda Suguru

Chinagu Eisa Hawaii is a local eisa drum group that I have been a fan of for some time. They perform a contemporary style of eisa. The symbol of the group is the kanji “kizuna,” which means strong emotional bonds. For the group, it represents the connection between generations of drummers, between Okinawa and Hawaii, between East and West, and the connection that you have with your culture as an individual.

The group formed in 2008 and first performed with their sister group, Naha Daiko of Naha City, at the 2010 Okinawa Festival and have sent students to train in Okinawa with them. Naha Daiko is a professional eisa group from Okinawa.

Saturday, September 8, 2012 (2:00pm and 6:00pm) at Mamiya Theatre

(via Shari T.)

Event: Lecture-Demonstration by Sekiyu Chinen

Jimpu Kai USA Kin Ryosho Ryukyu Geino Kenkyusho, Hawaii Shibu, under the direction of Cheryl Yoshie Nakasone, is proud to present a series of lecture-demonstrations by Mr. Sekiyu Chinen, a guest artist from Okinawa. Having studied uta-sanshin, dance, and kumiwudui under Master Kin Ryosho for almost forty years, Mr. Chinen is one of the last performers of Shuri-style kumiwudui in Okinawa. He would like to share his passion for Okinawa performing arts with the people of Hawaiʻi. The lecture-demonstrations are free and open to the public. Donations are welcome.

The lecture-demonstrations are scheduled on these dates:

Thursday, July 12: Hilo Nichiren Mission, 6:00 PM

Wednesday, July 18: Hawaii Okinawan Center, Serikaku Chaya, 7:00 PM (download flyer, PDF 157 KB)

Sunday, July 22: UHM Music Building, Room 36, 10:00 AM

Sunday, July 29: Maui Okinawan Cultural Center, 10:00 AM

(via Char)

Champuru featured on Channel808’s bon dance video

Champuru.net:

I was recently interviewed by Melissa Chang of Nonstop Honolulu / Hawaii IRL to talk about bon dancing. David, president of the Young Okinawans of Hawaii, and I had a great time chatting with Melissa. Enjoy!

There are a couple of videos up so be sure to check out Channel808’s YouTube channel.

And so marks the beginning of Hawaii’s bon dance season. 🙂