Culture, Food, Community at Annual Okinawa Bazaar

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Scenes from last year’s bazaar: El Marino Language School’s Eisaa Group and fuu champuru (Okinawan stir fry) booth. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

GARDENA — The Okinawa Association of America (OAA) will host its Annual Bazaar on Sunday, Oct. 8, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the OAA Center, 16500 S. Western Ave. in Gardena.

What started out as a tiny gathering of members has grown into an intergenerational cultural event that brings together hundreds of families for an afternoon of tasty food and soulful entertainment.

The food booths will showcase a number of maasan (delicious) Okinawan foods like sātā andāgī (“Okinawan dango”), Okinawa soba, ashitibichi (pig’s feet), rafutē (Okinawa-style slow-cooked pork belly), ice cream made with beni imo (Okinawan purple potato), and taco rice (literally taco ingredients over rice; a popular fusion dish in Okinawa).

The all-day entertainment program will feature the traditional and contemporary performing arts of Okinawa, Hawaiian dance, karate demonstrations, and more. Exciting additions to this year’s program include two spoken-word performances by Yonsei (fourth-generation) Okinawan descendants and a mini sanshin workshop/lesson with local musicians Yuna & Tida.

For those who want to start their holiday kōimun (shopping) early, $1 raffle tickets are available with a $300 grand prize for one lucky winner. Booths will also be selling souvenirs from Okinawa (limited supply), original Okinawa-themed merchandise (tote bags, T-shirts, and stickers), and handmade crafts donated by local dance group Majikina Honryu.

Parents can plan a family day and bring the kids to the warabi (children) tent. Fun activities include games, arts and crafts (including painting with bingata-style stencils), and a photo booth with an Okinawa-themed background.

The OAA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed by Okinawan immigrants over 100 years ago. The Okinawa Bazaar serves as the group’s largest annual fundraiser and the goal of this year’s event is to raise money for the OAA Center, which is in need of significant repairs and upgrades.

“We are blessed for the foresight of our elders had in creating a central gathering place for our organization and the surrounding community,” said Yuko Yamauchi, OAA’s executive director. “By coming out to the bazaar, people will not only experience the flavor and vibrant culture of Okinawa, but they’ll also be contributing to make sure the OAA Center is a safe and comfortable place to gather and host events.”

Rikka Uchinaa Bazaar nkai ikana (Let’s go to the Okinawa Bazaar)! Parking available in nearby residential areas. Early arrival recommended; popular food/merchandise items sell out quickly. Booths will only accept pre-paid scrips, which are vailable to purchase through the OAA office and at the event.

Pre-order scrips, make a tax-deductible donation, or sign up to volunteer: [email protected], (310) 532-1929. More info and schedule: http://oaamensore.org.

Volunteers needed: This event is organized and executed entirely by volunteers. Those who are interested in helping with set-up, booth operation, or clean-up can contact the OAA volunteer coordinator at [email protected]

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