After spending several days preparing for the annual Spring Food Bazaar at the Spokane Buddhist Church Sunday, Fumi Uyeji planned to eat sushi and teriyaki chicken from one of the bazaar’s dinner boxes.
She was out of luck.
All 500 bento boxes sold out, and Uyeji had to contribute hers to another customer.
“I’m going to have to go to McDonald’s now, since I gave mine up,” joked Uyeji, the church’s treasurer. “McDonald’s or maybe Arby’s. Some fast food.”
She’s not complaining.
The bazaar raised $5,000, which will help pay for rebuilding the old church, which was destroyed in a fire in April 1992.
The new church, 927 S. Perry, which opened Oct. 1, still needs about $17,000 for finishing touches such as wooden pews.
About 40 folding chairs with red satin pillows now are lined up in front of the altar, which holds an original gold Buddha and decorations saved from the fire.
On Sunday, more than 800 people came to the church’s basement to pick up bento boxes, teriyaki chicken, udon noodles and Japanese and American baked goods.
“It’s been a mixture of people,” said Chris Marr, the church’s fund-raiser chairman.
“A lot of younger people who like Japanese food, older Caucasians who have friends here. … It’s always been a way there’s been some socializing between the Japanese-American community and the regular community.”
Volunteers started preparing the feast earlier last week - specifically, 190 chickens.
“On Wednesday, they made the teriyaki chicken sauce,” said Roy Soejima, president of the church.
“They cleaned the chicken Thursday, marinated on Friday and started cooking early Sunday.”
Kengo Kato, who’s been coming to the food bazaars since 1965, helped clean the chickens.
He said the new church feels better than the old one, which was at the same site.
“It’s almost like we’ve been here a long time,” Kato said. “Everyone’s feeling quite at home. We just kind of belong here.”