GARDENA — The Okinawa Association of America (OAA) will host their third annual mini craft fair on Saturday, April 23, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the OAA Center’s parking lot in Gardena.
Though small in size, this outdoor boutique stands out in that it will include Okinawa-themed items such as art prints, greeting cards, tote bags, clothing, stickers, and more. The organization hopes that this will be a big draw, as Okinawan items are rarely available at local stores, festivals, and other craft fairs.
The OAA also hopes that the event will provide an unintimidating, community-based platform for youth artists, independent creators, and hobbyists to showcase their talents.
This event is being led by Melissa Oshiro Tran, one of the OAA’s youngest volunteers. Currently a freshman at CSU Long Beach, she says, “My mom bringing me to all the meetings and events to volunteer led me to coordinate an event like this. I’m truly thankful that there are places like OAA to teach people of all ages about themselves and sharing their culture.”
“The OAA is blessed to watch a young member like Melissa growing up within the organization and continuing her involvement even while a college student,” commented Yuko Yamauchi, OAA’s executive director. “It’s inspiring to witness her applying her talents and interests to contribute to the community and strengthen her cultural identity.”
In addition to learning practical skills and meeting new friends, Oshiro’s countless volunteer hours at the OAA have inspired her to study traditional Okinawan patterns and ways to implement those into her own work.
“Learning about [our] heritage is important because if we don’t learn, I believe that we will never truly know a part of ourselves,” the young artist added. “[The craft fair is] not just an event for fun, but one to share our culture through our expression of art with everyone.”
The OAA Center is located at 16500 S. Western Ave. in Gardena. The event will be held outdoors in the parking lot. Street-side parking is available. Masks will be required for community safety. For more information, contact the OAA office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 532-1929.
Confirmed Vendors (subject to change without notice)
Arnot Ohana Treasures: Embellished towels and water bottles
Aimee Buday & Monica Solis – Okinawa-themed figurines, scarves, coasters, candles, bags, placemats, and pillows
Hiro Melody Edington: Okinawa-themed decals, masks, mugs, key fobs, and more
Rumiko Hirano: Okinawa-themed coin purses, tissue cases, tote/handbags, traditional Okinawan chopsticks (akakiibashi) with case
Kanasa: Tote bags, “Shimanchu nu Kwii: The Voices of Shimanchu” magazines, stickers – IG @kanasaorganics @shimanchumag
Dana “Kame” Mays: Hand-bound sketch books, handmade bookmarks, hand-crocheted doilies, handcrafted pen and letter opener set
Melissa’s Creations: Okinawa-themed cards, art, tote bags, and more – IG @melissatcreations
Seiji Nakaki & Lasha Tamae: Washi tape, keychains, zines, and more – IG/Twitter @seijigay @lashadraws
OAA: Okinawa-themed tote bags and t-shirts, used books sale (not Okinawan), white elephant sale (not Okinawan)
Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko L.A.: Okinawa-themed shirts, stickers, and more – FB/IG @rmdlosangeles
Shimanchu Dushi-nu-chaa (Okinawan Friends): Okinawa-themed postcards, stickers, music CDs, and more – IG @shimanchu.playlist
Tierra Murra by Ecommshipments: Photocards, hats, jewelry, and clothing – tierramurra.com
YuMa Accessories: Cell phone charms/straps – IG @yumaaccessories
Looking forward to this event with my tomodachi. 64 years old now but still half Okinawan.