LIHUE — Theresa Pascua couldn’t help but smile on Saturday as she and her son Andrei joyfully visited booth after booth at the fourth annual Happiness Planting Japanese Cultural Festival.
“So far, so good,” the Lihue resident said. “I was wondering if I could see some Japanese items or see Japanese food that we can buy.”
Pascua was among several hundred residents and visitors participating in the festival’s multiple activities and booths at the Happiness Planting Center behind Isenberg Park.
Meant to promote the healthy growth of love, knowledge and spiritual education, the festival featured more than 10 vendors offering sushi, jewelry, art, essential oils and Japanese toys and clothing.
As Koko Day visited the jewelry booth Precious Kreations, a smile broke across the face of the Princeville resident.
Although it was her first time at the event, Day couldn’t wait to take some souvenirs home with her.
“I love it, I want to get some of it so I’m just going through all of it,” Day said. “I’d just like to see what’s going on and how the day goes.”
In addition to the booths, guests were also treated to many Japanese activities including a green tea demonstration, kimono dress-up and mochi pounding.
California resident Jim Stickney, who was selected to help the mochi makers beat rice into a sticky paste, said he had a blast.
“It’s not as easy as it looks, but it’s fun,” he said. “My wife and I have a daughter-in-law who’s Japanese and so we’ve always been interested in Japanese things.”
Due to the festival’s small size, Stickney said, he and his wife got to visit all the booths.
The festivities also featured hula dancing performed by Rose T. Warken Ceballos, pieces from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and thunderous taiko drum performances by the group Joyful Noise.
As he prepared to create music with Joyful Noise, 9-year-old Cayden Beadle said performing is his favorite part of the festival.
“It’s fun drumming,” he said.
Guests weren’t the only ones who enjoyed themselves — the vendors were also happy to share their services, art and wares with the island’s people, including behaviorist specialist Dr. Dennis Pezzato.
“I think it’s wonderful to have this sort of thing for the community,” he said. “I hope more people turn out because there are a variety of things that might pique certain people’s interests. I’m really interested in the flower arranging. I just think these are fun issues.”
Pezzato, who was promoting the program “Kauai Journey to Wellness,” a group of wellness providers who help others achieve their wellness goals, pointed out that the festival is a good way for people to be exposed to different cultures.
Bricille Dawkins, the owner of Shaka Oils LLC, shared her message of Doterra essential oils with the 75 guests who visited her booth.
“I’m amazed at how many people are definitely in-tuned to natural alternatives, all-natural, alternative health care,” Dawkins said.
Having met with an event coordinator about a month ago, Dawkins realized the festival reflected many of Doterra’s beliefs and decided to become a vendor.
“We’re happy we did,” Dawkins said. “Awesome surroundings, positive surroundings, just celebrating life together. It’s a great place to be.”