Lions and drummers and pork belly? Oh yes

If, at a bon dance, you’ve seen men with drums leaping and twirling, the air pulsing with their energy, chances are you’ve seen eisa. It’s exhilarating, this uniquely Okinawan drumming style, and often martial, so that sometimes they’re drumming and handling weaponry, too.

Groups from Okinawa and Hawaii converge at Kapiolani Community College this Saturday for drumming, dancing and singing — often all at once — at the fourth Eisa Drum Festival. They’ll take turns drumming in different styles throughout the evening before coming together in one loud finale. “The rule is every performer has to perform in the finale,” says Shari Tamashiro, the organizer, “so that’s 90 drummers, six lions and about 20 karate.”


“Karate we put in because it originated in Okinawa,” she says. “What you’ll see is the old Okinawan style of karate. They’ll demonstrate the weapons, but they’ll do it to music as part of the finale. You don’t see that too often.”

It can get pretty thrilling, all that leaping and pounding and martial arts weaponry. Even better, there’s andagi. Since crowds overwhelmed the KCC bento booth at last year’s festival, this year Tamashiro is pulling in Pig and the Lady, Sweet Revenge, No Ka Oi Cookies, Bonfire Pizza and Two Ladies Mochi. Most are selling at least one Okinawan-themed dish (I did mention the pork belly pizza?).

531451_319582944778628_1806911705_nTamashiro recommends bringing a jacket and lawn chair or mat. The Great Lawn slopes up, so you’ll have a good view. Below you’ll find event details, and then the lineup of food.

WHAT: The fourth Eisa Drum Festival
WHERE: Kapiolani Community College Great Lawn
4303 Diamond Head Rd.
WHEN: Saturday, May 17
Food sales begin at 4:30p
Traditional eisa performances from 6 to 6:45p
Contemporary eisa from 6:45 to 8:30p
Finale 8:30 to 9p

rafuteKCC Culinary Program
$5 Mini bento — yakisoba & Chef Grant Sato’s family recipe rafute simmered pork belly
$7 Bento — teri chicken, teri beef, hot dog, rice, spring roll, potato croquette. Bentos come with water or canned beverage
$10 Plate lunch — rafute, teri chicken or combo, with rice and goya namashi (bitter melon namasu). All plates include bottled water or canned beverage

Taiko Center of the Pacific
Two Ladies Mochi fundraiser — yes, the famous strawberry-stuffed ones from Hilo

Pig and the Lady
Thit kho caramelized pork belly rice bowl
Pig’s feet noodle soup (bun bo hue)
12-hour roast brisket banh mi sandwich

bonfire pizzaBonfire Pizza
Okinawa in the House — rafute with local sweet potatoes and sweet onions
Da ‘Shroom — lots of organic Waimanalo mushrooms with white truffle oil, mozzarella, marinara sauce
Plus Italian sausage & black olives; pepperoni; cheese; pepperoni & mushroom; and fresh lemonade and Plantation Iced Tea with fresh Hawaiian pineapple juice

Sweet Revenge
Purple and White (Okinawan sweet potato and haupia pie)
Japanese-style chicken curry pot pie
Chicken pot pie
S’more pie with graham cracker crust, chocolate silk and homemade marshmallows toasted to order
Dlilimansi pie (like a key lime pie but made with calamansi and lilikoi)
5C for serious chocoholics
Also hot coffee, fresh Nalo Lemonade and hot chocolate made from scratch with homemade marshmallows

nokaoiNo Ka Oi Cookie Co.
Handcrafted cookie ice cream sandwiches featuring Dave’s Hawaiian Ice Cream
Monster chocolate brownies regular or a la mode/sundae
S’mores or S’mores a la mode/sundae
Coconut butter mochi
Homemade cookies
Old-fashioned A&W root beer floats

Young Okinawans of Hawaii
Hot, freshly made andagi