BERKELEY -- Think of the Berkeley Buddhist Temple Bazaar and Arts Festival a bit like immersing yourself in the warm, inviting atmosphere of a Hawaiian-style bazaar. While they can't offer ocean breezes and breaking surf, they do provide a welcoming environment with great food, terrific music and cultural tradition. Throw in loco moco and Hawaii-style shave ice and the annual event on May 17 and 18 will be hard to pass up.

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the much anticipated event, one that has been in the planning since November and co-chairs Sara Jotoku and Russell Ware eagerly welcome everyone to attend.

Yokan, kuri manju, yomogi, or mugwort mochi, and pink mochi, from left, clockwise, Japanese confections made from rice flour, lima beans and other
Yokan, kuri manju, yomogi, or mugwort mochi, and pink mochi, from left, clockwise, Japanese confections made from rice flour, lima beans and other ingredients, are seen at the Berkeley Buddhist Temple on Channing Way in Berkeley, Calif., on Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Temple members will be making manju such as these for sale at the Satsuki Bazaar & Arts Festival at the temple on May 17-18. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

Ware spent his middle school years in Hawaii, where he first encountered the cultural and food experience of a bazaar. He felt the same atmosphere when he attended the Berkeley Buddhist Temple Bazaar in 1974.

"It reminded me so much of Hawaii so I started coming every year," Ware said.

The Berkeley setting is small -- the bazaar is held in the temple courtyard, parking lot and the street -- but that only contributes to the intimate, community atmosphere. It's a place where friends come to get together and where others, interested in the culture, food or music, form their own traditions and join the community.


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The two-day food fest features a Sunday lineup of free, high-level entertainment that includes taiko master Kenny Endo, well-known blues guitarist Takezo and the AMAmele music ensemble with the keiki (children) hula dancers. The emcee is Oakland native and comedian Josef Anolin.

Endo will be returning to the bazaar for the fourth year to headline Sunday's entertainment and will be performing with Shoko Hikage on koto, Masaru Koga on reeds, Abe Lagrimas Jr. on vibraphones, ukulele and drums, Hiroshi Tanaka on percussion.

"The Satsuki Festival is one of my favorite events to perform at," Endo said in an email. "I always appreciate the temple members coming together to work so hard to make the festival successful every year. There's a positive feeling of community spirit that's been lost in most areas. It's a modern manifestation of true Buddhism."

Rhythm and blues fans can anticipate Takezo in his first appearance at the bazaar. Born in Japan he now lives in Berkeley and will play his Chicago-style blues guitar along with Larry Vann on vocals and drums, S.E. Willis on keyboard, Ruth Davies on bass and vocalist Bobby Cochran.

Pat Takeda, of El Cerrito, folds in bean paste as she makes mochi at the Berkeley Buddhist Temple on Channing Way in Berkeley, Calif., on Tuesday, April
Pat Takeda, of El Cerrito, folds in bean paste as she makes mochi at the Berkeley Buddhist Temple on Channing Way in Berkeley, Calif., on Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Mochi are a type of manju, Japanese confections made from rice flour, lima beans and other ingredients. Temple members will be making the manju for sale at the Satsuki Bazaar & Arts Festival at the temple on May 17-18. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

AMAmele from the Academy of Hawaiian Arts in Oakland will round out the program with upbeat strums, ipu drum rhythms, ukulele picking and sweet vocal harmonies and singing parts to arrangements of Hawaiian language songs while the keiki hula dancers perform.

Aside from music, the weekend will focus on food, along with crafts and a silent auction. The choices are numerous.

On the menu are udon, newly added curry udon, sushi, Japanese curry rice, hamburgers, portobello mushroom hamburgers, Chinese chicken salad, BBQ teriyaki, Sangha dogs, hot dogs, rib-eye steaks, Hawaiian favorites spam musubi and loco moco, as well as cookies, cupcakes, mocha and manju.

The key is to come early because some popular items sell out. "Last year we had 850 steaks and they sold out, same with the manju and mochi," Ware said. "We do Hawaiian style shave ice and the booth can have a 45-minute line, especially on a warm day."

Booths will have handcrafted arts and crafts for purchase; there will be games for children and a silent auction.

Proceeds from the event will go toward the temple's operating budget with a portion benefiting Women's Daytime Drop-in Center, a Berkeley nonprofit that provides meals, referral and other support services to homeless women and children.

"It's a great reunion for old temple members and families and friends; a lot of people who moved away come back to help out, kids going to college come back and help out," Ware said. "It's like a reunion for the Berkeley community; it starts there and just continues to build -- in a melting pot, Hawaii-style, from all over; just eat and hang out."

IF YOU GO
The 65th annual Satsuki Bazaar and Arts Festival will be held from 3 to 9 p.m. May 17 and noon to 7 p.m. May 18 at the Berkeley Buddhist Temple, 2121 Channing Way. Parking is available on the Brower Center on Kittridge Street between Oxford Street and Shattuck Avenue.
CONTACT: 510-841-1356, berkeleysangha.org.