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Enjoy an Okinawan experience on Maui!

June 14, 2012
The Maui Weekly

The Maui Okinawan Kenjin Kai (MOKK), along with co-sponsor Maui Mall, will hold its Maui Okinawan Festival on Saturday, June 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Maui Mall in Kahului.

"Unleash Your Uchinanchu Spirit" is the theme of the festival, which is chaired by Jason Hondo and Lori Shinsato, with lots of support from MOKK members and friends.

"Mensore" means welcome in the Okinawan dialect. "Uchina" means "Okinawa." "Uchinaguchi" is the Okinawan dialect (Ryukyu language) and the people who speak "uchinaguchi" are "uchinanchu."

Article Photos

Shisa lion statues can be seen on top of roofs or at the gates of Okinawan residences and businesses, and even on street corners. According to Okinawan legend, shisa lion statues help ward off evil. How they came to be used as protectors is a story told and retold over the centuries so often that many different stories resulted, but to this day, they are usually displayed in pairs--one with its mouth open to scare off the evil spirits and the other with its mouth closed to keep the good spirits in.
Photo courtesy of Nagamine Studios

The entertainment program will feature continuous Okinawan music and dance performed by homegrown talent from Maui, as well as performers from O'ahu. Taiko and sanshin players, as well as martial arts demonstrations will also take the stage.

Okinawan artifacts reflecting our Okinawan history will be on view at the cultural display, including items used by Okinawan Issei, Okinawan ceramics, glassware, lacquer, textiles instruments and dancewear.

The event will also feature 15- to 20-minute presentations and demonstrations on Okinawan topics.

There's something for everyone at the Maui Okinawan Festival--even a craft fair featuring the arts, crafts and jewelry of vendors from Maui and O'ahu.

Professional photo sessions in traditional Okinawan wear will also be available for children and adults.

Of course, no Okinawan festival is complete without lots of Okinawan food. The Maui festival will feature delicious pig's feet soup, an Okinawan plate lunch, chow fun and everyone's favorite--andagi, sweet deep-fried buns of dough similar to doughnuts or the Portuguese malasada--and more!

The country store will feature homemade pickles, jams and jellies, sekihan and other rice dishes, baked goods, and different types of mochi, including nantu and baked mochi.

The children are sure to have fun with the games and activities planned for them.

Festival T-shirts will also be available for sale.

The Maui Okinawa Kenjin Kai welcomes all Uchinanchu-at-heart!

Mark your calendars and plan on spending the day at the Maui Okinawan Festival and "Unleash Your Uchinanchu Spirit," at Maui Mall!

And, don't forget to bring your recyclable bags.

For more information on the festival, call the Maui Okinawan Cultural Center at 242-1560. The center's office, located at 688 Nukuwai Place in Waiehu, is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The center itself is open Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon, and Wednesday through Friday from 8 to 11 a.m. by appointment. Admission is free; call for reservations for guided tours.



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