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Gardena Craft Fair to Feature Okinawan-themed items

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GARDENA — The Okinawa Association of America (OAA) will host their second annual mini craft fair on Sunday, Dec. 8, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the OAA Center’s Yamauchi Building in Gardena.

Though small in size, this holiday boutique stands out in that it will include Okinawan-themed items such as art prints, greeting cards, tote bags, clothing, coasters, and more. The organization hopes that this will be a big draw, as Okinawan items are rarely available at local stores, festivals, and other craft fairs.

The OAA also hopes that the event will provide an unintimidating, community-based platform for youth artists, independent creators, and hobbyists to showcase their talents.

This event is being led by Melissa Tran, one of the OAA’s youngest volunteers. “If my mom hadn’t brought me to all the meetings and events to volunteer, I wouldn’t be here today coordinating an event like this, or know this much about my family, ancestors, or even myself,” she said. “I’m truly thankful that there are places like OAA to teach people of all ages about themselves and sharing their culture.”

“The OAA is blessed to watch a young member like Melissa growing up within the organization and then getting involved of her own volition,” commented Yuko Yamauchi, the OAA’s executive director. “It’s especially great that she’s applying her talents and interests to contribute to the community and strengthen her cultural identity.”

In addition to learning practical skills and meeting new friends, Melissa’s countless volunteer hours at the OAA have inspired her to study traditional Okinawan patterns and ways to implement those into her own work. “Learning about [our]heritage is important because if we don’t learn, I believe that we will never truly know a part of ourselves,” the young artist added. “[The craft fair is] not just an event for fun, but one to share our culture through our expression of art.”

The OAA Center is located at 16500 S. Western Ave. in Gardena. The event will be held in the Yamauchi Building. On-site parking is limited; street-side parking is also available. For more information, contact the OAA office at [email protected] or (310) 532-1929 (weekdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.).

Confirmed Vendors (subject to change without notice)

Arakaki & Associates: Mugs, pouches, tote/wine bags, and more (including Okinawan- and Japanese-themed items)

Members of Choichi Kai L.A.: Okinawa-themed crochet dolls, bags, and greeting cards

Kai Modest: Coasters, pebble diffusers, nail polish, skin care products, perfume, lipsticks (including Okinawa-themed items) – FB/IG @kaimodest

Flor Kaneshiro: Original Okinawa-themed art prints/postcards, buttons, stickers, tote bags – FB @florkaneilustraciones / IG @florkaneshiro

M&E Creations: Handmade crafts and beni-imo (Okinawan sweet purple potato) snacks

Melissa’s Creations: Handmade bookmarks, magnets, notebooks, postcards, and more (including Okinawa-themed items) – IG @melissatcreations

Rumi H. Nakata: Okinawa-themed coin purses, tissue cases, tote/handbags, traditional Okinawan chopsticks (akakiibashi) with case

OAA: Okinawan-themed tote bags and T-shirts

Okinawan Crafter: Handmade totes, thermal bags, tissue cases, pet scarfs, earrings, and more (including Okinawa-themed items) – etsy.com/shop/okinawancrafter

Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko L.A.: Okinawan-themed shirts, towels, soap, greeting cards, gift tags, bookmarks, and more – FB/IG @rmdlosangeles

Janice Yamanaka: Handmade jewelry, magnets, origami, ornaments, pins, and more (including Japanese-themed items)

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