Bon dancing is one of the highlights of the picnic.
Bon dancing is one of the highlights of the picnic.

SOUTH EL MONTE — The Okinawa Association of America (OAA) will host its annual Members’ Picnic on Sunday, July 12, at Whittier Narrows Park, 750 Santa Anita Ave., Area E-1, in South El Monte.

Featuring live entertainment, kids’ games and races, raffle drawings, and Bon dancing, it’s a perfect place for reunions or a Sunday outing with family and friends. Non-members are also encouraged to attend and apply for membership at the picnic.

Kalyn Aolani Oshiro (Rafu Shimpo photo)
Kalyn Aolani Oshiro (Rafu Shimpo photo)

The picnic has been a tradition for OAA members since the 1930s, bringing together hundreds of local Okinawans and Okinawans-at-heart. Over the years, the OAA expanded this event with the addition of its high school scholarship awards and the only Okinawa-style Bon dance in Los Angeles. The dancing includes seven distinct choreographies with live music by sanshin musicians and eisaa drummers.

In addition to traditional Okinawan performing arts and karate, this year’s entertainment will feature a very special guest from Okinawa: Banjo Ai, an up-and-coming artist who performs original and traditional Okinawan folk songs in the style of American country and bluegrass.

The program will also feature a local favorite: Kalyn Aolani Oshiro, a 16-year-old singer/multi-instrumentalist specializing in traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music.

Other confirmed performers:

• Banjo Ai and Jim Rock, special guests from Okinawa

• Hanashiro Emiko Ryukyu Minyo Kenkyusho, sanshin group, Okinawan minyo (folk music)

• Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Los Angeles Branch, festival drumning and dancing

• Shishimai, Okinawan lion dancers

• Shozen Martial Arts, Shuri-Ryu karate

• Tamagusuku-Ryu Kansen-Kai, traditional Okinawan dance

Bring your family and friends, lawn chairs, blankets, and happi coats to Whittier Narrows Park for this year’s OAA Picnic. The event opens at 10 a.m. and the program is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. On-site parking costs $6.

Bon dance practice videos are available at

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