OAA Executive Director Yuko Yamauchi welcomes visitors.

GARDENA — The Okinawa Association of America (OAA) held its fourth annual Craft Fair on April 29 at the OAA Center’s parking lot in Gardena, drawing approximately 470 visitors.

Sixteen vendors sold Okinawa-themed items such as accessories, bags, buttons, pins, clothing, greeting cards, and postcards. The main organizer was Melissa Oshiro Tran, a sophomore at Cal State Long Beach.

JooToo Clothing offers Okinawa-inspired designs.

“Our first two craft fairs were indoors, but being outside brings a whole new energy and attracts a wider range of people – from OAA regulars, to the regulars’ families and friends, to passersby who are just curious,” said OAA Executive Director Yuko Yamauchi.

Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Los Angeles’ goods include shirts, stickers, small taikos and hoodies.

“This event definitely engages the younger generations on a different level because there’s a joy in seeing our cultural heritage represented in all different forms. Whether it be as cute character stickers, as slickly designed shirts and hats, or as emotionally resonant art prints, there aren’t many places to get these kinds of things outside of Hawai‘i and, of course, Okinawa.”

Vendors included Aimee Buday, Kim Kobashigawa and Monica Solis; Cou.chan Art; Dushi-nu-chaa; Hiro Melody Edington; Rumiko Hirano; Seiji Igei and Lasha Tamae; Jane’s Homemade; JooToo Clothing; Kansen Atae no Kai; Melissa’s Creations; Natsuko Designs; Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Los Angeles; Tierra Murra by Ecommshipments; White Mountain Treasures; and Yukino Yeganeh.

Jane’s Homemade’s specialties include vegan gumdrops.

Mini Film Festival

Upcoming OAA events include a hybrid Nuchaashii Gathering in celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month on Thursday, May 25. In-person potluck at 7 p.m. and self-introductions in Uchinaaguchi will be followed by four short films by artists of Okinawan descent:

Junko Featherston’s documentary features up-close-and-personal profiles of Okinawans and drag artists in New Mexico intimately discussing identity and sense of belonging.

Canada-based Shō Yamagushiku’s “Uyafaafuji’s Refusal: An Ode to the Yanbaru” conjures ancestors through spoken word, uta-sanshin, and abstract visuals/soundscapes.

Christy Ishimine’s “Obon Jivers” chronicles the quirky and beloved Japanese American Elvises who have become Southern California Obon festival staples.

Christopher Makoto Yogi’s “Obake (Ghosts)” is a quiet yet haunting exploration of memory and death set against serene Hawaiian landscapes.

RSVP required: http://tinyurl.com/nuchaashii2023

For information on other OAA activities, visit http://oaamensore.org.

Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo

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