64th Cherry Blossom Festival crowns new Queen and Court

From left: Miss Congeniality Dylan Katarina Lau, Princess and Miss Popularity Asia Rei Katsura Ayabe, Queen Alexis Sayuri Okihara, 1st Princess Brittney Yasuko Kawahara, Princess Ritsuko Sarah Tomari, and Princess Kristi Kiyo Murakami.

From left: Miss Congeniality Dylan Katarina Lau, Princess and Miss Popularity Asia Rei Katsura Ayabe, Queen Alexis Sayuri Okihara, 1st Princess Brittney Yasuko Kawahara, Princess Ritsuko Sarah Tomari, and Princess Kristi Kiyo Murakami.

This evening, the Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Cherry Blossom Festival crowned the 64th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court at its annual Festival Ball and coronation ceremony at Sheraton Waikiki. 

For the 15 Queen Contestants, Festival Ball is the culmination of seven months of cultural and professional development classes that include Japanese business etiquette, tea ceremony, calligraphy, taiko, aikido, ikebana, public speaking and interview training, and more.

The Queen, First Princess and three Princesses are selected by a panel of esteemed judges for their dedication to perpetuating Japanese culture, commitment to education and passion for community service. A contestant's total score is based on her performance in the following categories: preliminary activities, judges' interview and Festival Ball.

Miss Popularity is awarded to the Queen Contestant who has accumulated the most points by raised funds used to support the perpetuation of the Cherry Blossom Festival. Miss Congeniality is awarded to the Queen Contestant who has been selected by her peers as exemplifying the spirit of friendship. 

Proudly presenting the 64th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court: 
 
Queen Alexis Sayuri Okihara
Alexis Okihara is a 2009 graduate of Henry J. Kaiser High School. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of Oregon, where she received a bachelor of science in educational foundations with a minor in biology. She received a master's degree of educational leadership from Chaminade University in 2015. She currently teaches first grade at Waianae Elementary School. Her hobbies include soccer, surfing, and hiking.

1st Princess Brittney Yasuko Kawahara
Princess Ritsuko Sarah Tomari
Princess Kristi Kiyo Murakami
Princess and Miss Popularity Asia Rei Katsura Ayabe
Miss Congeniality Dylan Katarina Lau

This year's theme is Kansha, or gratitude, which exemplifies one of the core values of the Festival and its supporters.

Highlights of the evening included:

  • Taiko Performance – Contestants performed a taiko sequence choreographed and instructed by world-acclaimed musician Kenny Endo, and accompanied by members of the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble.
  • Western Phase – Contestants delivered one-minute personal speeches in evening gowns from Casablanca Bridal and Formals.
  • Eastern Phase – Contestants answered one impromptu question while wearing authentic furisode kimono flown in from Japan specifically for this event by Watabe Wedding Hawaii.

Thank you to our Festival Ball judges: Gary Chang, Circuit Court Judge; Dr. Doris Ching, interim chancellor, University of Hawaii - West Oahu; Susan Eichor, president, COO, aio; Donnie Juan, executive director, Filipino Community Center; Gregory Kugle, director, Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert; Lisa Maruyama, president, CEO, Hawaii Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations; Marlene Sato Teramae, 35th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen.

Violet Niimi Oishi Scholarship

Tonight, the Violet Niimi Oishi Scholarship was awarded to Amanda Yayoi Youth. Amanda Youth is a 2010 graduate of Iolani School and a 2014 graduate of the University of Oregon, where she received a bachelor of science in family and human services. She is currently working toward a master of social work at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Established in 2002 by Dr. Scott Oishi in memory of his mother, the very first Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and a career educator, this $5,000 award is designated for the continued education of one Queen Contestant. The recipient was selected on the basis of her educational excellence, essay submission, and community service involvement.

Meet our 64th Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Art Contest winners

From left: Joshua Chung of Iolani School, Emily Wong of Iolani School, and Merynn Yamane of Kaneohe Elementary

From left: Joshua Chung of Iolani School, Emily Wong of Iolani School, and Merynn Yamane of Kaneohe Elementary

The 64th Cherry Blossom Festival, a project of the Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce, is proud to announce three winners in its annual “Haiku Art Contest.”

The contest invited Hawaii students in grades 3-12 to showcase their creativity through haiku, the Japanese style of short-form poetry, and art. Each haiku was accompanied by a two-dimensional original artwork that conveyed this year’s theme, Kansha, the Japanese value of gratitude. 

Entries were submitted in the following categories: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, and Grades 9-12.

Grades 3-5: Merynn Yamane, Grade 5, Kaneohe Elementary

Kindness Kindness flows down deep Powerful acts of kindness Kind people triumph

Kindness
Kindness flows down deep
Powerful acts of kindness
Kind people triumph

Grades 6-8: Emily Wong, Grade 8, Iolani School

The Gift Tears are running down, She tries to speak but cannot, She smiles and thanks me.

The Gift
Tears are running down,
She tries to speak but cannot,
She smiles and thanks me.

Grades 9-12: Joshua Chung, Grade 9, Iolani School

Each winner received a $100 cash prize, and had his or her winning works published in the 64th Cherry Blossom Festival Souvenir Book, and online. They were also recognized during a public appearance at Kahala Mall on Jan. 23. Congratulations, and mahalo to all who entered!

64th Cherry Blossom Festival unveils Queen Contestants

On Sunday, Jan. 10, 2015, the 64th Cherry Blossom Festival officially kicked off. Mahalo to everyone who joined us!

For the second year, the festival's Opening Ceremony was held as part of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii's New Year's Ohana Festival, and open to the public.

This year's theme is Kansha, which is the Japanese value of gratitude and thanks, chosen to honor those who help to perpetuate Japanese culture and heritage in Hawaii. "Kansha reflects our appreciation for our sponsors, donors, cultural instructors, community supporters, family and friends," explained 64th Cherry Blossom Festival General Co-Chair Kara Iwasaki.

Check out more photos from the 64th Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony on our Facebook page!

(From left) Trisha Asao, Tarynn Nago, Amanda Youth, Rya Sekimoto, Kristi Murakami, Asia Ayabe, Kelly Ono, Aimee Nelson, Lori Anzai, Crystal Ishikawa, Ritsuko Tomari, Alexis Okihara, Brittney Kawahara, Ellise Kakazu, Dylan Lau.

(From left) Trisha Asao, Tarynn Nago, Amanda Youth, Rya Sekimoto, Kristi Murakami, Asia Ayabe, Kelly Ono, Aimee Nelson, Lori Anzai, Crystal Ishikawa, Ritsuko Tomari, Alexis Okihara, Brittney Kawahara, Ellise Kakazu, Dylan Lau.

For many, the highlight of the ceremony was the introduction of the 15 64th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Contestants, selected for their commitment to the perpetuation of Japanese culture, and passion for education and community service. They were dressed in attire provided by Tori Richard, a Gold Sponsor.

The 64th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Contestants are (in alphabetical order by last name):

Lori Miki Anzai
Trisha Kaori Asao
Asia Rei Katsura Ayabe
Crystal Lori Ishikawa
Ellise Midori Kakazu
Brittney Yasuko Kawahara
Dylan Katarina Lau
Kristi Kiyo Murakami
Tarynn Mika Nago
Aimee Kai Nelson
Alexis Sayuri Okihara
Kelly Miyoko Ono
Rya Ming-Jun Mie Sekimoto
Ritsuko Sarah Tomari
Amanda Yayoi Youth

Read more about our Queen Contestants here.

The contestants have already begun a rigorous series of cultural and personal development classes, which include instruction in taiko, tea ceremony, Japanese business etiquette and public speaking, and they will continue to do so throughout the festival. They will also take part in various public appearances and community service events around the island.

Their next public appearance will be on Saturday, Jan. 23, at noon at Kahala Mall.

The Queen Contestant experience culminates in the 64th Cherry Blossom Festival Ball, which will take place on Saturday, March 26 at 5 p.m. at Sheraton Waikiki. The contestants will share personal speeches in elegant evening gowns and answer impromptu questions while dressed in beautiful furisode kimono. At the end of the night, the 64th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court will be crowned.

63rd Cherry Blossom Festival Court (from left): Princess Jessica Kaneshiro, Princess Kyla Teramoto, Queen Kimberly Takata, First Princess and Miss Congeniality Rosalei Chinen, Princess Celina Quach, and Miss Popularity Heather Miura.

63rd Cherry Blossom Festival Court (from left): Princess Jessica Kaneshiro, Princess Kyla Teramoto, Queen Kimberly Takata, First Princess and Miss Congeniality Rosalei Chinen, Princess Celina Quach, and Miss Popularity Heather Miura.

Application period opens for 65th Cherry Blossom Festival

With the kick-off of the 64th Cherry Blossom Festival, application forms were also made available to young women of Japanese ancestry who are interested in participating in next year's 65th Cherry Blossom Festival.

Applicants must have at least 50 percent Japanese ancestry, and be a United States citizen and Hawaii resident, among other requirements.

For the first time, the festival has also increased the age limit for applicants, from 26 to 28 years old.

"Nowadays, young women are often pursuing higher education, and may consider participating in the Cherry Blossom Festival after they accomplish that goal," said 64th Cherry Blossom Festival General Co-Chair Desiree Uyeda. "Raising the age limit allows these women to also experience the wonderful opportunities our Festival has to offer."

A completed registration form, documentation, and a $30 application fee is required. The application and more information is now posted online here.

64th Cherry Blossom Festival announces 2016 Calendar of Events

63rd Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony on Jan. 11, 2015 (Photo: Chris Kwock)

63rd Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony on Jan. 11, 2015 (Photo: Chris Kwock)

Happy New Year! 

The 64th Cherry Blossom Festival has released its 2016 Calendar of Events, which begins with an Opening Ceremony on Jan. 10 and culminates with Festival Ball on March 26. Many of these events are free and open to the public.

Read more about our events here!

Opening Ceremony*
Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016
10:30-11:30 a.m.
Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, Teruya Courtyard Stage

The 64th Cherry Blossom Festival officially kicks off during the center's New Year's Ohana Festival, and the 64th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Contestants are revealed. 

Public Appearance*
Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016
Kahala Mall
Noon-1 p.m.

The 15 Queen Contestants will practice their public speaking skills, and a Japanese cultural group will entertain the crowd. The Cherry Blossom Festival will also present awards to the three Hawaii student winners of the Haiku Art Contest. 

Public Appearance*
Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016
Pearlridge Mall, Uptown
Noon-1 p.m.

Queen Contestants will refine their public speaking skills by answering impromptu questions. Cultural entertainment will be provided by Leeward Judo Club.

Public Appearance*
Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016
Windward Mall
Noon-1 p.m.

Queen Contestants will refine their public speaking skills by answering impromptu questions. Cultural entertainment will be provided by Hui O Na Opio from Saint Louis School.

Golf Tournament
Friday, Feb. 26, 2016
Hawaii Prince Golf Course
10:30 a.m. Registration
11:00 a.m. Shotgun Start

Golfers enjoy a fun-filled tournament with food and snacks along the course. The event concludes with a dinner and awarding of prizes. Queen packages for three players ($750) and Princess packages for three players ($550) will be available starting Jan. 10.

Public Appearance*
Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016
Ala Moana Center, Centerstage
3-4 p.m.

This will be the Queen Contestants' final public appearance before Festival Ball. Cultural entertainment will be provided by Dragon Beat.

Contestant Reception
Saturday, March 5, 2016
Rumours Nightclub, Ala Moana Hotel
5 p.m.

Contestant Reception is a fun, entertaining, 21-and-over only event. Queen Contestants will model looks from local boutiques in a fashion show. Guests enjoy door prizes and lucky draw contests. Tickets ($25 per person) will be available starting Jan. 10.

Festival Ball
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Sheraton Waikiki
5 p.m.

The evening begins with the Western phase. Queen Contestants deliver a prepared speech while wearing an evening gown. During the Eastern phase, Queen Contestants answer an impromptu question while wearing traditional furisode silk kimono. The evening ends with the crowning of the 64th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court. General seating ($100 individual, $1,000 for table of 10) will be available starting Jan. 10.

Events marked with an asterisk are free and open to the public. Ticket sales for paid events will begin on Jan. 10. Official 64th Cherry Blossom Festival commemorative T-shirts ($20) and souvenir books ($15) will also be available for purchase. Check back for more information and sales forms.

Call for Entries: 64th Cherry Blossom Festival Encourages Student Participation in “Haiku Art Contest”

The 64th Cherry Blossom Festival, a project of the Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce, has announced a call for entries for its annual “Haiku Art Contest.”

The Cherry Blossom Festival invites Hawaii students in grades 3-12 to showcase their creativity through haiku, the Japanese style of short-form poetry, and art. Each haiku must be accompanied by a two-dimensional original artwork (such as a painting, drawing, print, or photo) that conveys this year’s theme, Kansha, the Japanese value of gratitude.

Entries can be submitted in the following categories: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, and Grades 9-12.

Completed entries (including the application form, haiku, and artwork) must be mailed to:

64th CBF Haiku Art Contest
P.O. Box 1105
Aiea, Hawaii 96701

Entries must be postmarked by Oct. 12, 2015. Eligible students must submit their application form under the supervision of an adult educator, parent, or legal guardian.

Application forms and full contest details are available online here.

Last year's winner (Grades 3-5): Karys Imai, Grade 5, Kaneohe Elementary

Last year's winner (Grades 3-5): Karys Imai, Grade 5, Kaneohe Elementary

62nd Cherry Blossom Festival Queen contestants revealed

HONOLULU - Fifteen Japanese-American women will be vying for the title of queen for the 62nd annual Cherry Blossom Festival in March.

The 2014 contestants were revealed on Sunday during the festival's opening ceremony. Under this year's theme "Issho Ni" -- translated as "together" in Japanese -- contestants were selected for their dedication to perpetuating Japanese culture, commitment to education and passion for community service.

The 62nd Cherry Blossom Festival contestants:

Nicole Alohilani Ansai
Nicole Mari Kai Burns
Alyssa Erika Fujihara
Erin Mei Fukaya
Kristin Meilynn Imose
Kaysha Fujiko Izumoto
Michaela Kyoko Kamemoto
Sarah Kiyomi Kamida
Jasmine Emi Nicole Nagano
Karen Reinante Nakagawa
Chelsea Noelani Okamoto
Danica Chiemi Tamaye
Alysha Tanabe
Cara Lei Mariko Tsutsuse
Chelsea Jaye Chie Uchihara

Over the next few months, these women -- between 19 and 26 years old and at least 50 percent Japanese -- will participate in cultural classes, public appearances and community service events before the crowning of the 62nd Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court at the festival ball.

Festival Ball
Date: Sunday, March 30
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Location: Sheraton Waikiki, 2255 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

61st Cherry Blossom Festival Announces New Queen and Court

The 61st Cherry Blossom Festival court (from left to right): Miss Popularity Ashley Higa, Princess Misha Maletta, First Princess Lori Higashi, Queen Crystine Ito, Princess Kellene Sasano, Princess Leila Mitsunaga, and Miss Congeniality Eryn Kawamoto. Photo by Sean Nakamura.

This evening, the Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Cherry Blossom Festival crowned the new 61st Cherry Blossom Queen and Court at its annual Festival Ball and coronation ceremony at the Hawai‘i Convention Center. For the 15 Queen Contestants, Festival Ball is the culmination of seven months of cultural and professional development classes that include Japanese history and business etiquette, bon dance, aikido, taiko, speech and pageant training, and more.

Queen, First Princess and three Princesses are selected by a panel of esteemed judges for their dedication to perpetuating Japanese culture, commitment to education and passion for community service. Princesses are listed in alphabetical order. Miss Popularity is awarded to the Queen Contestant who has accumulated the most points by raised funds used to support the perpetuation of the Cherry Blossom Festival. Miss Congeniality is awarded to the Queen Contestant who has been selected by her peers as exemplifying the spirit of friendship.

Proudly presenting the 61st Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court:

Queen: Crystine Hisae Ito
Crystine is a 2007 graduate of Kapa‘a High School. She is the daughter of Carol Ann and Carlton Ito. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a Minor in American Studies in 2011 from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and currently works as a legislative aide in the Hawaii State Legislature House of Representatives.

1st Princess: Lori Hiroko Higashi
Princess: Kellene Noenoelani Sasano
Princess: Misha Nicole Yurie Maletta
Princess: Leila Tomoyo Mitsunaga
Miss Popularity: Ashley Michiko Higa
Miss Congeniality: Eryn Akemi Kawamoto

This year's theme, Laulima, is a tribute to the legacy of the Festival and its many volunteers, sponsors, donors, contestants, families, and supporters. Without "many hands working together," these 61 years of awareness, education, and preservation of the Japanese culture in Hawaii could not have been possible.

Highlights of the evening included:

  • Taiko Performance – Contestants performed a taiko sequence choreographed and instructed by world-acclaimed musician Kenny Endo, and accompanied by members of the Taiko Center of the Pacific.
  • Western Phase – Contestants delivered one-minute speeches in evening gowns from Casablanca Bridal & Formals.
  • Eastern Phase – Contestants answered one impromptu question while wearing authentic furisode kimono flown in from Japan specifically for this event by Watabe Wedding Hawaii.

Violet Niimi Oishi Scholarship

Tonight, the recipient of the Violet Niimi Oishi Scholarship was also named. Established in 2002 by Dr. Scott Oishi in memory of his mother, the very first Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and a career educator, this $5,000 award is designated for the continued education of one Queen Contestant. The recipient was selected on the basis of her educational excellence, essay submission, and community service involvement.

Violet Niimi Oishi Scholarship Recipient: Leila Tomoyo Mitsunaga

Leila is a 2006 graduate of Iolani School and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2010 from Willamette University. She will be attending Argosy University in the fall, where she will be studying to become a clinical psychologist and pursue her dream to help children with mental health problems.

61st Cherry Blossom Festival in the media

Hawaii News Now Sunrise
February 1, 2013

60th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Erin Morimoto and Princess Nicole Kinney sit down with Tannya Joaquin to discuss the Festival.

Watch the video here:

Honolulu Pulse
January 31, 2013

Photo: Courtesy Jermel-Lynn Quillopo

Social Encore blogger Jermel-Lynn Quillopo reports on the mission of the Cherry Blossom Festival and its cultural impact on Queen Contestants and the community.

Read the full article here.

Hawaii-Arukikata.com
January 22, 2013

The Japanese language website Hawaii-Arukikata.com covers the 61st Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony.

Read the full article (in Japanese) here.

Meet the 61st Cherry Blossom Festival's 1st Annual Haiku Contest Winners

The 61st Cherry Blossom Festival celebrated the launch of its 1st Annual Haiku Contest. Students in grades 3-12 attending school in the state of Hawaii submitted original haiku sets within an original piece of artwork that depicted the poem and further exemplified the contest theme: "Laulima: Bridging Hands Across Oceans."

The three first-place winners and their work were recognized at the 61th Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony on January 19, 2013. Their winning entries were also published in the 61st Cherry Blossom Festival Souvenir Book.

Congratulations to our winners! View their original haiku and artwork here.

From left-right: Aisha Yamamoto, Joy Okimoto and Georgienne Murray with 61st CBF general chair Holly Duarte. Photo by Sean Nakamura.

The 61st Cherry Blossom Festival Unveils its 15 Queen Contestants

The 61st Cherry Blossom Festival Contestants: (left-right) Misha Maletta, Hannah Tsunemoto, Whitney Shiroma, Stephanie Chiang, Eryn Kawamoto, Neysa Taba, Leila Mitsunaga, Lori Higashi, Kellene Sasano, Tiffany Hsu, Mychal Hatae, Shanna Nakamura, Crystine Ito, Ashley Higa, Chayne Toyama. Photo by Sean Nakamura.Honolulu, Hawai‘i – The 61st Cherry Blossom Festival unveiled yesterday its 15 Queen Contestants at an Opening Ceremony at The Villa at Aloha Tower Marketplace. This year's theme "Laulima," which translates to "many hands working together," was also announced. Click here to view more event photos on our Facebook page.

Queen Contestants are selected for their dedication to perpetuating Japanese culture, commitment to education and passion for community service. More information about individual Queen Contestants can be found online at /contestants/.

One contestant will be crowned the 61st Cherry Blossom Festival Queen during this year's Festival Ball on Saturday, March 30 at 5 p.m. at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

The 61st Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Contestants are:

Stephanie Masako Chiang
Mychal Chiyoko Kanoura Hatae
Ashley Michiko Higa
Lori Hiroko Higashi
Tiffany Akemi Hsu
Crystine Hisae Ito
Eryn Akemi Kawamoto
Misha Nicole Yurie Maletta
Leila Tomoyo Mitsunaga
Shanna Kailolaina Nakamura
Kellene Noenoelani Sasano
Whitney Sachie Melendres Shiroma
Neysa Joy Mayumi Taba
Chayne Kimi Toyama
Hannah Ying Tsunemoto

About the Cherry Blossom Festival

The Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the longest, continually running ethnic festivals in the State of Hawai‘i, which celebrates Japanese culture and heritage. Sponsored by the Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce, the 61st Cherry Blossom Festival spans from January to March 2013. Featured events include several community events open to the public, Golf Tournament, Contestant Reception and the highly-anticipated Festival Ball where a new Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court will be crowned.

The Cherry Blossom Festival is sponsored by: Bank of Hawaii, Fujiyasu Kimono Company, Obun Hawaii Group, Watabe Wedding, Gyotaku Japanese Restaurant, Japan Airlines, Kyoya Company, Ltd, Pam Futa-Campbell, Shiseido, Island Insurance, Kirin Brewery of America, Marukai Wholesale Mart, Tori Richard, Gyotaku by Naoki, Images by Steven, JHM Productions, JTB Hawaii, and Servco Pacific.

For more information about the Cherry Blossom Festival, visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cbfhawaii or follow our Twitter account at www.twitter.com/cbfhi.

The 61st Cherry Blossom Festival presents the 1st Annual Haiku Contest

**This contest is now closed. Thank you to all who entered!**

Entries are being accepted for the 1st Annual Haiku Contest. Students in grades 3-12 who attend school in the state of Hawaii are eligible.

Entries must contain an original haiku set within an original piece of artwork that depicts the poem and further exemplifies the contest theme: "Laulima: Bridging Hands Across Oceans."

All entries must be postmarked by Friday, November 16, 2012. LATE ENTRIES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. Mail entries to:

61th CBF HAIKU CONTEST
P.O. BOX 1105
Aiea, Hawaii  96701

All entries must include the following:

  • Completed application form with signatures of both student and parent/guardian.
  • Original haiku and artwork – DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME, TEACHER’S NAMES, OR SCHOOL NAME ANYWHERE ON OR WITHIN YOUR ENTRY.
  • SASE (only if requesting the return of student's work)

Entries must be:

  • the student’s original work
  • legible, inclusive of lettering no smaller than 1/2”
  • no larger than 9” x 12”
  • securely paper clipped to the contest application

Awards will be given in three age categories: Grades 3-5, 6-8 & 9-12.

  • First: $75 US Savings Bond
  • Second: $50 US Savings Bond
  • Third: $25 US Savings Bond

The three first place winners and their work will be recognized at the 61th Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony in January 2013 as well as have their winning entries published on the Cherry Blossom Festival website and in the festival Souvenir Book.

For more information, email Howard Chi at howard_chi@notes.k12.hi.us with any questions or concerns.

Announcing the 60th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 Saturday, March 31, 2012
 Contact: Sean Nakamura
 Cherry Blossom Festival, Public Relations Chair
 cbfhawaii@gmail.com

60th Cherry Blossom Festival Announces New Queen and Court

 Honolulu, Hawai‘i – This evening, the Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Cherry Blossom Festival crowned the new 60th Cherry Blossom Queen and Court at its annual Festival Ball and coronation ceremony at the Hawai‘i Theatre. The Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the longest continually running festivals in the State of Hawai‘i, which celebrates Japanese culture and heritage.

Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Contestants are selected for their dedication to perpetuating Japanese culture, commitment to education and passion for community service.  This year’s festival theme, “Kizuna,” translates to “To Bond,” which represents the bonds and relationships created through the years that keep our festival together and strong.

Queen, First Princess and three Princesses are selected by a panel of esteemed judges. Princesses are listed in alphabetical order. Miss Popularity is awarded to the Queen Contestant who has accumulated the most points by raised funds used to support the perpetuation of the Cherry Blossom Festival. Miss Congeniality is awarded to the Queen Contestant who has been selected by her peers as exemplifying the spirit of friendship. Proudly presenting the 60th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court.

Queen – Erin Mie Hi’ileialoha Morimoto
Erin is a 2005 graduate of Punahou School. She is the daughter of Gayle Morimoto and the late Colin Morimoto. She has earned a bachelor of arts in Psychology with a minor in Marketing at the University of Southern California and a Master of Education in Teaching at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She currently is a middle school language arts teacher.

First Princess – Edrea Eri Katsunuma
Princess – Nicole Yuriko Kinney
Princess – Cari Ayako Tasoe
Princess – Tomomi Julia Ida
Miss Congeniality – Heather Leilani Chiyono Smith
Miss Popularity – Teri Leinaala Nakakura

In 2002, Dr. Scott Oishi established the $5,000 Violet Niimi Oishi Scholarship in memory of his mother, the very first Cherry Blossom Festival Queen. In honor of Mrs. Oishi’s career as an educator, this $5,000 award is designated for the continued education of one Queen Contestant. The recipient was selected on the basis of her educational excellence, essay submission, and community service involvement.

Violet Niimi Oishi Scholarship Recipient – Cari Ayako Tasoe
Cari is a 2004 graduate of Iolani School. She is the daughter of Gary and Candace Tasoe. She has earned a bachelor of arts in Psychology and Social Behavior at University of California Irvine and a Master of Educational Psychology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She currently is a Chapter Coordinator. 

Kristine Wada and Devon Nekoba served as mistress and master of ceremonies. The Festival Ball was opened with a taiko performance by the contestants followed by the Taiko Center of the Pacific. During the Western Phase, contestants delivered one-minute speeches in evening gowns. The Eastern Phase featured contestants wearing authentic furisode kimono flown in from Japan specifically for this event by Watabe Wedding Hawaii. The contestants also answered one impromptu question.

The Cherry Blossom Festival is sponsored by: Bank of Hawaii, Fujiyasu Kimono Company, Japan Airlines, Shiseido Cosmetics America, Kyo-Ya Company, Obun Hawaii Group, Pamela Futa Campbell, Gyotaku Japanese Restaurant, Watabe Wedding Hawaii, Kirin Brewery of America, Tori Richard, Marukai Wholesale Mart, Island Insurance, JTB Hawaii, Gyotaku by Naoki, Images by Steven, JHM Productions, Servco Pacific. 

For more information about the Cherry Blossom Festival, visit www.cbfhawaii.com or call 808-949-2255. Visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cbfhawaii or follow our Twitter account at www.twitter.com/cbfhi.

About the Cherry Blossom Festival
The Cherry Blossom Festival holds the honor of being one of the longest, continually running ethnic festival in the State of Hawai‘i – originally started in 1953 by the founding fathers of the Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce. The Cherry Blossom Festival was created to celebrate Japanese culture and to enrich the lives of young Japanese-American women. The Festival also has an international reach, partnering each year to host five special sister chapters from Japan: Kobe, Odawara, Kurashiki, Kojima and Tamashima. Over the past 59 years the Cherry Blossom Festival has touched the lives of many, especially the 986 women it has called contestants. 

About the Honolulu Junior Japanese Chamber of Commerce
The Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce (HJJCC) first convened in 1949 with the mission of developing young Japanese-Americans into civic-minded citizens. The HJJCC aims to foster young leaders through professional development, community service, and the perpetuation of Japanese culture. The HJJCC sponsors many community events – including the well-known Cherry Blossom Festival – as well as offering its members numerous opportunities to develop leadership, managerial and organizational skills through participation in community service projects. The HJJCC also fosters business networking and socializing which allows members to establish life-long friendships. 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012

Contact: Sean Nakamura
              60th Cherry Blossom Festival, Public Relations Chair
              Email: cbfhawaii@gmail.com

60th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Contestants make public appearance

On Saturday, Feb. 11, the 60th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Contestants made their first public appearance at the Windward Mall. The event opened up with a taiko performance by Somei Taiko followed by an appearance and opening speech by the 59th CBF Court.

The 60th CBF Queen Contestants were then presented on the stage one-by-one and was each asked one question to answer to the audience. The questions were picked randomly and asked contestants a variety of general questions about various topics.  

The 60th Cherry Blossom Festival has more upcoming public appearances and special events. Here is a brief list of upcoming public appearances:

Kahala Mall Public Appearance: Feb. 18 at noon.

Ala Moana Shopping Center Public Appearance: March 3. at 3 p.m.

Pearlridge Shopping Center Public Appearance: March 10 at noon.

For more information on other CBF events such as the Contestant Reception, Golf Tournament, and Fashion Show, please visit www.cbfhawaii.com/events.

The Festival Ball will be on Saturday, March 31 at the Hawaii Theatre at 5 p.m.

The Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the longest, continually running ethnic festivals in the State of Hawai‘i, which celebrates Japanese culture and heritage. Sponsored by the Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce, the 60th Cherry Blossom Festival will span from Jan. to March 2012.

For the most up-to-date information on events and announcements, "like" Cherry Blossom Festival Hawaii on Facebook and follow us on twitter: @cbfhi. 

60th Cherry Blossom Festival Unveils Queen Contestants

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012.

Contact: Sean Nakamura
Cherry Blossom Festival, Public Relations Chair
Email: cbfhawaii@gmail.com

60th Cherry Blossom Festival Unveils Queen Contestants
Honolulu, Hawai‘i – The 60th Cherry Blossom Festival unveiled today its 15 Queen Contestants at an Opening Ceremony at the Pagoda Hotel & Restaurant C’est Si Bon ballroom. This year’s theme “Kizuna,” translates to “To Bond,” was also announced at today’s ceremony.

Queen Contestants are selected for their dedication to perpetuating Japanese culture, commitment to education and passion for community service. More information about individual Queen Contestants can be found online at www.cbfhawaii.com/contestants.

One contestant will be crowned the 60th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen during Festival Ball at the Hawai‘i Theatre on March 31. Ticket information is available online at www.cbfhawaii.com/events.

The 60th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Contestants are:
Kristin Amanda Rie Alm
Carrie Gemma Chiemi Esaki
Tomomi Julia Ida
Edrea Eri Katsunuma
Nicole Yuriko Kinney
Allison Keiko Kunichika
Shiho Matsutaka
Erin Mie Hi‘ileialoha Morimoto
Jenna Akia Moriwaki
Ter Leinaala Nakakura
Erin Ai Shiroma
Heather Leilani Chiyono Smith
Cari Ayako Tasoe
Marika Emi Yano Wilson
Mindy Mitsuyu Yoneshige


The Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the longest, continually running ethnic festivals in the State of Hawai‘i, which celebrates Japanese culture and heritage. Sponsored by the Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce, the 60th Cherry Blossom Festival will span from Jan. to March 2012. Featured events include several community events open to the public, Golf Tournament, Fashion Show, Contestant Reception and the highly-anticipated Festival Ball where a new Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court will be crowned.

In 1953 Violet Tokei Niimi was crowned the very first Cherry Blossom Festival Queen. In 2001, her son, Dr. Scott Oishi established the Violet Niimi Oishi Scholarship in honor of his mothers fond memories of the Cherry Blossom Festival. Dr. Oishi and a committee of four judges will select one contestant to receive $5,000 to go toward continuing her education. The recipient will be selected based on her educational excellence, essay submission, character, and community service efforts. The recipient of the 11th Violet Niimi Oishi Scholarship will be announced on March 25. at the Festival Ball.

The Cherry Blossom Festival is sponsored by: Bank of Hawaii, Fujiyasu Kimono Company, Obun Hawaii Group, Watabe Wedding, Gyotaku Japanese Restaurant, Japan Airlines, Kyoya Company, Ltd, Pam Futa-Campbell, Shiseido, Island Insurance, Kirin Brewery of America, Marukai Wholesale Mart, Tori Richard, Gyotaku by Naoki, Images by Steven, JHM Productions, JTB Hawaii, and Servco Pacific

For more information about the Cherry Blossom Festival, visit www.cbfhawaii.com or call 808-949-2255. Visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cbfhawaii or follow our Twitter account at www.twitter.com/cbfhi.