The 29th annual Okinawan Festival brings folk dancing, food to Waikiki this weekend


The Okinawan Festival, held each year toward end of summer in the Waikiki area, mixes together music, dance, culture and an assortment of popular Uchinanchu (Okinawan) cuisine for a fun weekend.

The 29th annual Okinawan Festival, dubbed Sharing Uchinanchu Aloha, will be held at Kapiolani Park, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sat., Sept. 3 and on Sun., Sept. 4. The Okinawan Festival Bon Dance will be held from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.on Saturday.

Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost prefecture, consists of scores of islands. Uchinanchu is the term used by people of Okinawan descent in Hawaii to identify themselves as group distinct from the Naichi of Japan’s four main islands. Immigrants from Okinawa began arriving in Hawaii in 1900. By 1908, more then 8,000 laborers had moved here to work, primarily, on sugar and pineapple plantations. Another wave of Okinawans immigrated to Hawaii in 1946, after World War II.

Today, people of Okinawan descent in the Islands remain a close-knit group. The annual Okinawan Festival is organized by more than 2,000 volunteers from the Hawaii United Okinawa Association, which is made up of families with ancestral roots in Okinawa. Membership through the association’s clubs is estimated at about 40,000.Hawaii_Oahu_Waikiki_Okinawa

Here are some of the festival’s entertainment highlights:

Shimauta singers — Mamoru Miyagi, one of Okinawa’s top shimauta singers, 4 p.m. on Sat., Sept. 3 and on Sun., Sept. 4, followed by shumauta singer Yoko Hizuki, 4:30 p.m. both days.
Leinani Hula Group — Okinawan dancers skilled in the art of hula, 12:30 p.m. on Sat., Sept. 3.
Kyoko Toma Minyou & Yuino Buyo Group — Folk dancing, taiko drums and classical buyo-style dance,  3 p.m. on Sun., Sept. 4.

And here’s the lowdown on food favorites:

Andagi — Okinawan deep-fried doughnut (pictured at top of page). 

Andadog — Okinawan version of the corndog. Hotdog on stick, dipped in Andagi batter and deep-fried.

Fundagi — An Okinawan-style funnel cake — lightly dusted with powdered sugar. (Available only during Saturday evening’s bon dance.) 

Pig feet soup — As billed, pigs’ feet. The soup is garnished with seaweed, turnip, squash and mustard cabbage.

Yakisoba — Okinawan style stir-fried soba noodles with vegetable and luncheon meat.

Okinawa Soba – Okinawan style soba noodles served in hot soup and garnished with fishcake, pork, green onions and red ginger. 

Champuru Plate — Shoyu pork, stir‐fried vegetables, luncheon meat and deep‐fried tofu. 

Okidog — Hotdog and chili wrapped in a soft tortilla with shredded shoyu pork and lettuce.

Taco Rice — Invented in Okinawa, Taco Rice layers the main ingredients of a Tex-Mex taco on a bed of rice.  

The HUOA’s Okinawan Festival Shuttle Bus will run continuously during the festival from Kapiolani Community College to the festival area. Tickets may be purchased at the festival’s information booth and shuttle stop booth at Kapiolani Park. For more information about the festival, click here.

Categories: Oʻahu