Here’s the Menu and Schedule for This Weekend’s Okinawan Festival
Eat andagi, watch your favorite Okinawan performers take the stage and bon dance the night away.
For all things andagi, champuru and bon dancing, the Okinawan Festival is always a treat. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, this two-day event is slated for the Hawai‘i Convention Center this weekend. Here’s your guide to what to see, buy and eat, where to park and everything in between.
What It Is
One of Hawai’i’s largest ethnic festivals, this hugely popular event celebrates Okinawan culture with food, health and wellness booths, performances, arts and crafts and a bon dance. There’s truly something for everyone: Keiki can play at the robotics booth and enjoy the coloring station; grownups can even get tips on tracing their Okinawan roots. Proceeds from the festival support the Hawai‘i United Okinawa Association (HUOA), which hosts classes, a student exchange program, a children’s day camp and community service projects.
When and Where
Back to an in-person format, this year’s festival takes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 4 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center. Early admission tickets give you access to the festival from 9 a.m. on both days so you can beat the lines. The popular bon dance will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday, during which only the Okinawan soba, bento and andagi booths will remain open.
Where to Park
Park in the convention center’s parking structure (enter from Kalākaua Avenue) for $12 per entry. Overnight or in-and-out parking are not allowed, so plan accordingly. Limited drop-off and pickup will be available at the entrance on Atkinson Drive.
If paying that much for parking gives you the heebie-jeebies, park for free at the Civic Center Municipal Parking at 346 Alapai St. (enter from Beretania). Across the street at the Alapai Transfer Station, you can use the $3 round-trip shuttle service to Hawai‘i Convention Center. You’ll purchase your shuttle ticket at the festival’s information booth in the exhibit hall, and pay upon return. The shuttle will run Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
How Much It Costs
General admission tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors (65 years and older) and free for keiki under 12. Early admission tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and are only available online at okinawanfestival.com for purchase with credit or debit cards. All sales are final. Admission is only required to access the exhibit hall on the first floor—you won’t need an admission ticket for the third floor, where you’ll find the Okinawan marketplace, craft gallery and cultural exhibits.
Food, crafts and other festival activities will require scrips. These are priced at $1 per scrip and sold in sheets of 10. Credit cards are preferred, but cash will also be accepted.
SEE ALSO: Things to Do on O‘ahu in September 2022
What to Eat, Drink and Buy
Everyone knows the best part of the Okinawan Festival is the food! Aside from freshly prepared offerings like the famous andagi and Okidogs, you’ll find a marketplace of packaged foods from Okinawa, plus a country store with locally grown vegetables, fruits and treats from local businesses, many of them Uchinanchu-owned. You can also purchase the commemorative festival t-shirt and buy potted plants, flowers and bonsai. Help save the planet by bringing your own reusable shopping bags.
- Andagi: Okinawan deep-fried doughnut served hot and fresh. Available during festival and bon dance, 3 pieces for 4 scrips
- Andadog: The Okinawan version of the corndog—a hot dog on a stick that is dipped in andagi batter and deep-fried. Available during festival and bon dance, 3 scrips
- Champuru plate: Sliced vegetables and luncheon meat stir-fried champuru-style and served with white rice, shoyu pork and andamisu (a miso sauce cooked with finely chopped pork); 7 scrips. Vegetarian option available for 6 scrips
- Okidog: A hotdog covered with chili and wrapped in a soft tortilla with shredded shoyu pork and lettuce; 10 scrips
- Chili frank plate: Chili and white rice served with a hot dog, 8 scrips
- Chili and rice: 6 scrips
- Okinawa soba: Okinawan-style soba noodles served in hot soup and garnished with kamaboko (fishcake), shoyu pork, green onions and red ginger; 10 scrips
- Pig’s feet soup: Pig’s feet cooked in soup stock and garnished with kombu (dried kelp), daikon (turnip), togan (squash) and mustard cabbage. Served with hot rice; 14 scrips
- Yakisoba: Okinawan-style soba noodles stir-fried with vegetables and luncheon meat, and seasoned with a chef’s sauce; 7 scrips
- Yakitori stick: Chicken skewers grilled with teriyaki sauce, 2 scrips
- Yakitori bento: Two teriyaki-grilled chicken skewers with rice and furikake, 6 scrips
The festival’s popular Country Store on the first floor of the Convention Center is all about supporting local vendors. You can buy local snacks that can be eaten at the festival and local produce to take home. Here are some of the notable items:
- Produce: Goya (bittermelon), hyotan squash, Okinawan sweet potato, and more
- Andamiso: A pork miso paste that is delicious on rice. This item is made especially for festival.
- Aloha Tofu’s Jimami Dofu: This Okinawan peanut tofu is rarely made and difficult to find in Hawai‘i.
- Also: Asato Family Sherbert, Hawaiian Pie Co., Hawaiian Chip Co., Huff n’ Puff Okoshi, Kansai Yamato Mochi, Maki Sushi from Ige’s, Molokai Bread, Nisshodo mochi, etc.
An impressive array of food products direct from Okinawa is featured at this market on the convention center’s third floor. This is a great way to “taste” your way through Okinawa by purchasing items usually found only in Okinawa. Among the most popular:
- Kombu (dried kelp)
- Okinawa soba noodles
- Sata Andagi mixes in kokuto, kabocha and other flavors
- Shïkwasa juice (Okinawan lemon-lime)
- Kokuto (Okinawan black sugar)
What to Watch
Both days will be full of nonstop entertainment like Okinawan dance, karate, taiko and live music. The opening procession begins 10:45 a.m. on Saturday, featuring Paranku Clubs of Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i Okinawa Creative Arts and members from HUOA. Here’s the entertainment schedule:
11 a.m.—Paranku Clubs of Hawai‘i
11:10 a.m.—Formal Opening Ceremony
11:40 a.m.—Mitchai Kwattai
12:05 p.m.—Sonorous Quartet
12:25 p.m.—Hooge Ryu Hana Nuuzi No Kai Nakasone Dance Academy
1:00 p.m.—Hawai‘i Okinawa Creative Arts
1:35 p.m.—Ryusei Honryu Ryuko Kai
2:10 p.m.—Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement
2:45 p.m.—Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Hawai‘i
3:20 p.m.—Tamagusuku Ryu Kansen Atae no Kai, Yonamine Keiko, Kaishu, Nishijo Joseph
4:05 p.m.—Ryukyu Koten Afuso Ryu Ongaku Kenkyuu Choichi Kai USA
5:30 to 8:45 p.m.—Bon Dance
10 a.m.—Kilauea Okinawa Dance Club
10:20 a.m.—HUOA Ichigo Ichi e Class
10:45 a.m.—Hālau O Na Pua Kukui
11:20 a.m.—Chinagu Eisa Hawai‘i
11:55 a.m.—Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement
12:30 p.m.—Tamagusuku Ryu Senju Kai – Frances Nakachi Ryubu Dojo
1:05 p.m.—‘Ukulele Hale
1:55 p.m.—Azama Honryu Allison Yanagi Ryukyu Dance Studio, Nomura Ryu Dento Ongaku Kyokai Hawai‘i
2:30 p.m.—Jimpu Kai USA Kin Ryosho Ryukyu Geino Kenkyusho
2:55 p.m.—Okinawa Minyo Kyokai Hawai‘i & Urizun Minyo Group
- Masks are strongly encouraged for attendees and will be required for folks entering the Bunkwa Nu Shima (Cultural Village) Room. Disposable masks will be available upon request.
- No pets are allowed, except for service animals.
- No hard-shell coolers or lawn chairs are allowed.
- Bring reusable water bottles—you can refill at water stations inside the convention center.
- Free wireless internet will be available in the common areas, as well as free cell phone charging stations.
- If you have young ones or babies, you can take a break or feed your baby in a nursing room on the third floor.
- General admission tickets can be purchased at the admissions booth using cash or scrip. Credit card users will need to use the online link at okinawanfestival.com.
For more information, visit okinawanfestival.com.