by Jere Shimomura (Maui Okinawa Kenjin Kai)

Mensoree! Come join us for an Okinawan experience on Maui!

The Maui Okinawa Kenjin Kai will hold its first Okinawan Festival on Saturday, June 9, at the Rinzai Zen Mission in Paia. “Celebrating Our Okinawan Legacy” is the theme of the Festival, which begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 9:30 p.m. with a giant bon dance on the Rinzai Zen lawn. The festival is being co-chaired by former MOKK presidents Koki Tamashiro and Mike Hondo, with lots of support from our club members and friends.

The entertainment program will feature continuous Okinawan music and dances performed by homegrown talent from Maui and the Neighbor Islands — and even a few guest performers from Okinawa! We’re also looking forward to welcoming a special friend from Okinawa: Kin Cho Mayor Katsuhiro Yoshida.

Rounding out the entertainment will be performances of Okinawan koto, samisen and taiko as well as martial arts demonstrations.

Okinawan culture will be highlighted at our festival, with displays of Okinawan artifacts, tattooing and genealogy. We’ve asked some of our local experts to demonstrate the art of flower arrangement and bonsai.

Of course, no Okinawan festival is complete without lots of ono Okinawan food. The Maui festival will feature delicious pig’s feet soup, an Okinawan plate lunch with pork, stir-fried vegetables and rice; a shoyu chicken plate with o-koko and rice; a teri-beef, o-koko and rice plate; a yasai champuru (stir-fry vegetable) plate; chow fun noodles, “anda-dog” (Okinawan Pronto Pups); and everybody’s favorite: andagi! We’ll also have lots of shave ice, soda, juice and water to keep you cool — and coffee to keep you awake for the drive home.

Our Country Store will feature homemade pickles, jams and jellies, baked goods, pretzels, sushi, barazushi (sushi rice) and other rice dishes, along with several different types of mochi, including nantu and baked mochi. You’ll also find plants and flowers, vegetables, handmade items, books and T-shirts — all for sale in the Country Store.

The Maui Okinawan Festival will also be a good opportunity to stock up on food products from Okinawa and mainland Japan, such as konbu, soba, shiitake mushrooms and fu (wheat glutton).

There’ll be something for everyone at the Maui Okinawan Festival — even a mini craft fair featuring the arts, crafts and jewelry of vendors from Maui and Oahu. The kids are sure to have a ball with our games, the dunking booth, the Bouncing Castle, a fishing tank, ring toss, putt-putt golf and other activities.

The Maui Okinawa Kenjin Kai welcomes all Uchinanchu and Uchinanchu-at-heart wherever you may be. Make your travel reservations now and plan on spending your entire June 9 at our festival. And then, let’s end a fun- and culture-filled day with a festive bon dance under the Maui stars.

For more information on the first Maui Okinawan Festival, call the Maui Okinawa Cultural Center at (808) 242-1560.