Keiki turn out in droves for a day of fun, games
• Photo gallery: Keiki Fun Fest
By John Windrow
Advertiser Staff Writer
A bevy of Cherry Blossom beauties in tiaras and sashes enticed all comers to try their luck at a fishing booth yesterday at the Keiki Fun Fest/Going Green gala at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i in Mō'ili'ili.
The hopeful contestants took a line and a pole with a clothespin attached, dangled it behind a mysterious screen and then hauled up prizes.
Nicole Sullivan of Mililani babysat family friend Caden, 2 1/4, who wore a Japanese hachimaki (headband) and won a washcloth at the fishing booth.
"He can always use one," Sullivan confided.
"Actually he's very excited about the fish," Sullivan said, pointing to a giant carp having its photo taken with a group of kids. "He loves fish."
Bonnie Nakahara of the Hawai'i Goldfish and Carp Association explained that in Japanese culture the fish is a symbol of strength and energy, used to celebrate Boy's Day on May 5.
But nowadays, in the spirit of inclusiveness, it's called Kids' Day.
The Goldfish and Carp folks also had a fishing contest, and Ashley Shiotani, 6, who was there with her twin sister, Christy, won a genuine tiny carp that was happily swimming about in a plastic bag of water.
"We have a tank at home," said her dad, Eric.
Their mom, Mieko, said the family braved the rainy day "just for fun."
There was an inflatable bouncer, a spinning prize wheel offering treasures such as JCCH keychains, waffle dogs, blueberry cream cheese scones, kalua pig sliders, spare ribs and shave ice.
Aside from food, song and dance, the festival included booths about solar-powered model cars, composting and recycling to encourage "green practices" to help the environment.
Roosevelt High School student Phon Huynh, 15, had the honor of working the crowd, dressed head to toe as a waffle dog because "my sister made me."
Phon described the costume as "hot," referring to the temperature, not any fashion sense. She also doubted that the experience would lead to many career opportunities, but she was doing her bit to volunteer for the community.
Nicole Ogawa-Yukitomo, an 11th-grader at Punahou School, volunteered because she studies Japanese and wanted to learn more about Japanese culture.
"My great-grandparents immigrated from Japan," she said, "and my grandparents speak Japanese, so I practice with them."