58th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen & Court Profiles - Deadline Extension Until August 16

Thursday, July 29, 2010                

Contact: Desiree Yamamoto
Cherry Blossom Festival, Public Relations Chair
email: cbfhawaii@gmail.com

58th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen & Court Profiles

Application deadline extended until August 16, 2010

Honolulu, Hawai‘i – The Cherry Blossom Festival announced today that the application deadline has been extended until August 16, 2010. Celebrating its 59th year, the Cherry Blossom Festival is seeking bright young women who cherish culture, education and community service. The annual Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the longest, continually running festival in the State of Hawai‘i, which celebrates Japanese culture and heritage. Queen contestant applications are available online at www.cbfhawaii.com.

The 58th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court were selected at Festival Ball held in March 2009 at Hawai‘i Theatre. Fourteen contestants performed an original taiko composition choreographed by taiko artist – Kenny Endo, delivered a 1-minute prepared speech on a topic of her choice, and demonstrated poise and grace while answering an impromptu question dressed in traditional furisode silk kimonos flown in from Japan.

Months of cultural classes, public appearances and professional development training ensure that each contestant was ready for Festival Ball. “Great care is taken to ensure that every contestant is prepared. It is amazing to witness each contestant’s individual transformation over the seven-month process,” said 59th Cherry Blossom Festival General Chair Darren Ota. “What a contestant may learn from the Cherry Blossom Festival will stay with her forever, and can be applied to all aspects of her personal life and professional career.”

Contestants are commonly asked why they applied for the Cherry Blossom Festival, and answers vary from - meeting other young women with similar aspirations, developing public speaking skills, or for the cultural classes that are provided as part of each contestant’s semi-finalists award.

58th Cherry Blossom Festival Princess Cori Hanagami, medical student, remembers feeling relieved when she realized that others shared her apprehension about public speaking.  The contestants supported each other to overcome their nervousness - building camaraderie and developing confidence on stage. Hanagami attributed the successful delivery of her speech at Festival Ball to the support from fellow contestants.

As a teenager, Princess Kimberlee Young, investigator, suffered an ACL injury forcing her to wear a three-pound leg brace to play basketball. “In overcoming my injury I learned that challenges we encounter are only as big as we make them out to be,” said Young. Similarly, as a contestant, Young found balancing family, work, friends and the Cherry Blossom Festival commitments challenging at first – but developed and applied her time management skills to successfully complete each task at hand.

Being the only contestant of Korean and Japanese ancestry, 1st Princess Allison-Jae Hyun, social worker, felt apprehension at the start of the Festival because she thought she had to prove she was Japanese enough to participate.  As the weeks of classes passed, Hyun realized that the Festival, although focused on Japanese culture, was more about embodying traditional values and “living my life in a way that respects and acknowledges everything that came before me.”

Miss Congeniality Andrea Hiura, psychology student, acknowledged that the Cherry Blossom Festival can play in integral role in the development of a young woman’s life. While careers will vary, most contestants share a common objective of defining who they are and who they want to become. “I believe that our history and heritage help to shape who we will become, and that’s why it’s so important to understand where we came from,” said Hiura. Being a contestant has changed Hiura for the better, “I used to be constantly late everywhere I went, and now I’m always five minutes early.” When asked what she’d like to tell potential applicants, Hiura said, “you have nothing to lose, but so much to gain.”

Princess Kimberly Fujinaka, marketing coordinator, stressed that potential applicants aren’t expected to come with stacked resumes, and that the Festival provided opportunities for continued learning and personal growth. Fujinaka admitted that submitting her application was huge risk, but the first step towards an amazing opportunity. She was honored being selected as a contestant, and embraced the experience and new friendships. Fujinaka acknowledged the hundreds of past contestants and court members who return to support the Festival, and attributes this as a clear indication on how special this opportunity is.

“If you’re interested in trying something new” said Queen and Miss Popularity Marissa Machida, law clerk, “then the Cherry Blossom Festival has something to offer you.” Machida reflected on the history of the Festival and the 58 years of tradition that she and the contestants are now a part of. She suggests that young Japanese-American woman apply, stressing that no other experience can replicate what the Cherry Blossom Festival can provide.

Applicants must have at least 50 percent Japanese ancestry, be between the ages of 19 and 26 years old, single, a U.S. citizen and Hawai‘i resident. A completed registration form, proof of Japanese ancestry through a birth certificate and a $30 application fee is required.  Visit the website for a complete list of eligibility requirements.
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.  
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