HUOA "honorary member" Makoto Arakaki, who is an associate professor of anthropology at Okinawa Christian Junior College in Nishihara, happened to be in Honolulu with a group of researchers from the University of the Ryukyus when the HUOA held its blood drive with the Hawaii Blood Bank on Dec. 15. Makoto climbed on the table, flashed a shaka at the camera, and gave his blood for Hawai'i.



Volunteer gardeners who turn out twice a week to maintain the Hawaii Okinawa Center grounds held a mochi tsuki (pounding) on Dec. 15. They invited HUOA members to come out and get a few good luck pounds in. While the men poune\ded, the women shaped the mochi behind them. Gardener James Shiroma is pictured here taking his turn pounding the mochi.



The Ala Moana Hotel’s Plantation Cafe Restaurant will be transformed into a mini Okinawa when the hotel hosts its first Okinawa Festival, March 6-24.

The hotel is flying in two Okinawan chefs who work at the ANA Manza Beach Hotel — Chef Yukihide Shimabukuro, a 20-year veteran of the hotel, and Chef Seikai Higa, who has been with the ANA Manza Beach since 1993. Both chefs cooked for world leaders who attended the G-8 Summit in Okinawa in 2000.

According to Keith Koehler, director of food and beverage for the Ala Moana Hotel, the cultural food festivals were created to give hotel guests and the community an opportunity to experience different world cultures through their food and costumes and colors. "We normally fly in chefs from the country for three weeks to prepare some of the different dishes during the festival," said Koehler. The hotel has tapped Hui O Laulima members to help them give the restaurant an Okinawan flair through textiles and artifacts.

The Plantation Cafe menu will offer two menus planned by chefs Shimabukuro and Higa. One will feature tibichi (pig’s feet soup), an entree of either goya champuru (stir-fry bittermelon with pork and tofu) or rafute (glazed pork) served with rice and tsukemono, and sata andagi (Okinawan doughnut — Okinawa style) for dessert, all for $10.50. The second menu will feature a kubu irichi (kelp cooked with dried turnip) appetizer, sooki soba (Okinawan soba and sparerib soup) for the entree, and sata andagi for dessert, all for $10. The same menus will be available for dinner, with larger servings and slightly higher prices: $12.50 for the goya or rafute, and $12 for the sooki soba. The hotel will also be serving Okinawa’s own Orion Beer and awamori.

The Okinawa Festival lunch will be served Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner service will be available Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. On Friday and Saturday night, the hotel will incorporate the Okinawa Festival food with its prime rib and seafood buffet from 6 to 9 p.m. The Okinawa Festival food will also be available during the Sunday brunch (11 a.m.-2 p.m.).