JAPAN (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hankyu Hawaii Fair last week gave Osaka residents a taste of Hawaii culture, but only to those who managed to brave a fierce storm or wait it out.
"The first day, we were setting up and we had an earthquake," Shawn Mawae, the international sales manager with Hawaii Coffee Company said.
After that, the rain started to fall — so intense that it prompted flooded in some areas, killing at least 176 people in devastated towns.
This was Mawae's second time at the event.
She said the storm made a major impact on the Hawaii fair. That was partly due to the mass transit system in the city shutting down.
"People feared you wouldn't be able to get in and out," she said.
On Friday, all 70 vendors and the hosting Hankyu Hanshin Department Stores had to close up shop by 3 p.m. so employees could make it out of the city to the surrounding suburbs safely.
"That's the only thing that slowed the fair down," said Ralph Gaston, with Rusty's Hawaiian.
While Mawae has seen the contrast between the two years she's attended, first-year businesses like Rusty's Hawaiian say the rain was only a hiccup.
"It went great, even though there was the typhoon," said Honolulu Burger Company owner Ken Takahashi. "But at the fair, you felt like you were in Hawaii."
He said that once the storm cleared up over the weekend, there was a swell of visitors, all ready to try Hawaii's coffee, burgers, clothes and more.
Businesses make the trip every year to expand their markets. A few Hawaii companies even have sister-locations in the area.
"There's so much love in Hawaii," Mawae said. "People there would tell me they wouldn't let the storm stop them from coming."