LIHUE — “Mensora” means “welcome” to Okinawa culture, food, and dance. It’s a greeting offered to those who braved the Friday night rains, which gave way to Saturday’s clear weather at the Hui Alu Okinawa Festival at the Kauai Veterans Center.
“Kauai has the best andagi recipe,” said Cheryl Ueno, who worked alongside state Sen. Jill Tokuda, who came over to help with the festival benefitting the Hui Alu Okinawa Club. “You don’t need sugar. It’s all inside.”
Other popular food dishes included the shoyu Okinawa pork, pig feet soup, Okinawa soba, fried chicken and champuru, which were quickly gobbled up by fans waiting the start of the Okinawa performances from the visiting Afuso-Ryu Ongaku featuring Grant Sanbaa Murata, Lisa Sadaoka, Sean Sadaoka and Alison Ebesu of Honolulu.
The appearance of the shisa, or Okinawa lion, thrilled the audience which, similar to the Chinese New Year lion, offered gifts for good luck.
Attorney and former state Sen. Jonathan Chun served as chairperson for the event which traditionally takes place in May every other year. Hui Alu, in reciprocation, travels to Oahu for the annual Okinawa Festival at Kapiolani Park, held over Labor Day weekend.