Annual Okinawa Picnic

  • en
  • ja
Community Event

Jul 202421
11:00a.m. - 4:00p.m.

Whittier Narrows Recreation Park
Group Picnic Area E-1,
750 S. Santa Anita Ave.
South El Monte, California, 91733
United States


  • Okinawa-Style Bon Dance
  • Live Performances
  • Games
  • Raffle Drawings
  • High School Scholarship Awards
  • ...and more


(Service hours available for students)

Umanchu OAA Picnic uti majun ashibibusan! (We want to have fun with everyone at the OAA Picnic!)

The Okinawa Association of America (OAA) will host their Annual Members Picnic on July 21 (Sunday), 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Whittier Narrows Recreation Park in South El Monte. Featuring live performances, games, raffle drawings, high school scholarship awards, and Okinawa-style Bon Dancing, it's the perfect event for reunions or a summer outing with loved ones. (Non-OAA members are also encouraged to attend the event and apply for membership)

For many OAA members, the picnic is rooted in their family’s history. The gatherings were pioneered by early Okinawan immigrants in the 1930’s as a way to build fellowship and to joyously partake in their shared cultural heritage. The organizers later added a high school scholarship award to recognize the academic and service achievements of young Okinawans in the organization. It has since become a multigenerational event centered around community and connecting with Okinawan culture.

To commemorate the organization’s 115th anniversary, there will be a special live performance by Takane Kochihira, a lyricist, composer, and singer-songwriter visiting from Okinawa. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Kochihira’s debut album, “Umui Uta”, which was released by Crown Records in 2004. He has performed in over 30 countries, including twice at the OAA – a mini-concert in 2014 and at the organization’s annual Keirō Kansha no Hi (Senior Appreciation Day) luncheon in 2015.

The OAA encourages bringing the whole family to enjoy games throughout the day including a water balloon toss tournament, relay races, tama-ire (a popular bean bag toss game in Japan), and more; prizes awarded to all participants while supplies last. The picnic will conclude with the much-anticipated chinahichi (tug-of-war); age restrictions apply.

Picnic-goers can also enjoy and cheer on local talent during the entertainment program. From traditional dances and folk music to the dynamic Ryūkyūkoku Matsuri Daiko drum-dancing group, this is one of the few annual events in Southern California that spotlights the diverse culture of the Ryūkyū Islands.

The festivities will culminate with Bon Odori, a community dance circle that is performed in honor of our uyafaafuji (ancestors). Audience members of all ages are invited to join; no experience is necessary as the movements are repetitive and easy to follow. The OAA’s “Okinawa-style” Bon Odori is unique in that all of the dances are Okinawan and live music will be provided by sanshin (traditional 3-stringed lute) and paarankuu (hand drum) musicians. Participants who dance at the event will receive a commemorative button designed by Kim Kobashigawa ( while supplies last. To learn the choreographies ahead of time, practice videos are available at

There will be raffle drawings throughout the day with great prizes (attendance not required to win prizes). One grand prize winner will take home a 43” Toshiba LED 4K Smart TV, generously donated by Kamiya Insurance Agency. Other great prizes include $200 cash, $100 cash, gift cards/certificates, and more. Basket raffle prizes (attendance required) include baseball tickets, a signed Lakers basketball (Taurean Prince, #12), children’s bicycle, and more. Proceeds will benefit the OAA’s yearly activities as well as much needed maintenance and repairs for the organization's facilities.

The picnic will be held at Whittier Narrows Recreation Park, Group Picnic Area E-1, 750 S. Santa Anita Ave., South El Monte. Food will not be provided at the event. No alcohol, smoking, or pets permitted (except for service animals). Gates open at 10:30 a.m; on-site parking is $7 cash per car (carpooling recommended); golf cart service from the lot to the event site is available for members with physical restrictions. Raffle tickets ($1) are available for pre-order:, (310) 532-1929. Volunteers are needed on July 20th and 21st; please contact the OAA or sign up at (service hours available for students).

The OAA would like to say ippee nifee deebiru (thank you very much) to this year’s Gold Level Sponsor, Kamiya Insurance, and Silver Level Sponsors, Uyehara Travel and Oki Dog (in memory of the late Sakae Jimmy Sueyoshi), for their generous support.

Awarded as one of 2023’s California Nonprofits of the Year, the Okinawa Association of America, Inc. (OAA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving and promoting Okinawan culture. Formed by first generation Okinawan immigrants (issei), the OAA has grown into a multi-generational organization that hosts numerous events throughout the year including cultural lectures, performances, social gatherings, and senior-focused activities. 2024 marks the organization’s 115th anniversary as well as the 25th anniversary of the OAA Center in Gardena. For updates, please visit or follow @oaamensore on Facebook/Instagram.


oaamensore . Last modified Jul 09, 2024 2:35 p.m.

Get updates

Sign up for email updates

Journal feed
Events feed
Comments feed

Support this project

Discover Nikkei

Discover Nikkei is a place to connect with others and share the Nikkei experience. To continue to sustain and grow this project, we need your help!

Ways to help >>

A project of the Japanese American National Museum

The Nippon Foundation