Young Okinawan Taiko performer, 1998. Photo: David M. Shimabukuro
Sponsored by the Hawaii United Okinawan
Association, the annual Okinawan Festival has been held each year
on Saturday and Sunday of the Labor Day weekend since 1982.
Recognized as the largest cultural event in Hawaii, the festival
draws between 40,000 and 50,000 people to Kapiolani Park in the
middle of Waikiki. At the festival, visitors experience a small
glimpse into the diverse beauty of the Okinawan people, her culture
The festival opens on Saturday morning with a parade
of Okinawan club banners and a Paranku procession;
paranku is a small hand-held drum used in a folk performing art called
eisa. When the parade has been completed, guests are
treated to non-stop entertainment throughout the course of the
festival. Traditional Okinawan music and dances are the main
attraction, including the Okinawan classical dances
Yotsutake, and a folk dance
Obon, in which over 1000 people participate.
Okinawan Dancers, performing the dance "Yotsutake," 1995 Photo: David Shimabukuro
Sunday's events include Taiko (drum),
Sanshin (lute) and
Koto (zither) instrumental performances, the Okinawan
free-style dance Kachashi, and entertainers from Okinawa.
Large tents house displays highlighting Okinawan arts and culture,
including lacquerware, pottery, textiles, kimonos, hair-styling,
karate, and performing arts. Other displays have included
genealogy, calligraphy, flower arrangement, and the Okinawan
uchinaaguchi). To delight the palate, Okinawan
delicacies are featured:
andagi (deep-fried doughnuts),
ashitibichi (pig's feet soup),
yaki soba (noodles
stir-fried with vegetables and meat), and an Okinawan plate with a
variety of traditional dishes.
Local artists and craftsmen sell their work, children
are offered crafts projects and carnival games, and
koi are displayed by two Hawaiian cultural
organizations. The festival takes over a year of planning and
utilizes a volunteer workforce of over 2,000.
Project documentation includes report of 15 pages
with a bibliography, 29 stunning 8 x 10 color photographs, and a
video of the 1998 Okinawan Festival.
Originally submitted by: Daniel K. Inouye, Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Senator Neil Abercrombie, Representative (1st District) & Patsy T. Mink,Representative (2nd District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.