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2023 Okinawan Festival Photo Contest Winners

The Hawaii United Okinawa Association encourages documentation of the Okinawan Festival by sponsoring a photo contest. Our goal is to gather and archive photos from the Festival to preserve the rich history of Okinawan culture in Hawaii. This year, two winners were chosen, one for each theme: Culture and Ohana. A huge congratulations and Kariyushi Deebiru to both of them!


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Sharing Maasan (Delicious) Andagi with the Shisa   

Young Uchinanchu cousins learn about their unique culture at the Okinawan Festival, and share their love for andagi with the shisa!

I am 4th generation Uchinanchu. My grandparents were born in Hawaii but raised in Okinawa and returned to Hawaii shortly before the war. In the 1980s, they returned to Okinawa to care for my great-grandmother. Growing up, my family and I would often visit them in Okinawa during the summer. We always enjoyed walking down Heiwa Dori, shopping at San-A, watching Eisa performances, and cooling off with Beni-imo ice cream from Blue Seal.

My mother's side (Hanashiro) is associated with Yomitan, and my father's side (Uechi) is associated with Ishikawa.

My favorite part of the Okinawan Festival is celebrating my Uchinanchu culture with my extended family, and sharing our unique culture with my children. We go early, and stay there for hours enjoying the exciting entertainment together, while eating our favorite Okinawan foods, like andadog, okidog, Okinawan soba, and of course andagi!

Three words that come to mind when thinking about the Okinawan Festival are Family, community, and celebration.


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Making Okinawan Memories

I was happy to bump into a friend's son and his family at the festival, and I was able to capture them as they were all taking a selfie photo.

As a passionate photographer, capturing the essence of the Festival has been an incredibly enjoyable experience for me over the past few years. I first got involved when the Festival was still held at Kapiolani Park, where I had the chance to meet Shari Tamashiro through the Eyes of Hawaii Photography club. Shari's connection to the Festival and her work at KCC made her an invaluable resource and a great inspiration.


Trying to capture the essence of the Festival has given me opportunities to fully appreciate the Okinawan culture that I hope to share with my granddaughter who is 1/4 Okinawan. Values and traditions passed on from generation to generation are quite apparent throughout the entire event. This is quite remarkable to me.  I appreciate having the opportunity to be able to experience this annual event. 


The aspect of the Okinawan festival that I enjoy most is all the traditional entertainment, especially the taiko performers.  


Three words that come to mind when I think about this year’s Festival are eating jimami tofu, learning about Shigeru Serikaku, and shisa. 


It’s worth mentioning that my son-in-law is half Okinawan. His last name is Higa!  

His grandparents were from Okinawa. They farmed macadamia nuts on the Big Island prior to owning a florist on Oahu. 

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