59th Cherry Blossom Festival Announces New Queen and Court


Saturday, March 26, 2011     

Contact: Desiree Yamamoto
Cherry Blossom Festival, Public Relations Chair

59th 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 59th 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, “Okage sama de,” often simply translated as “I am who I am because of you,” was a guiding principle for the Cherry Blossom Festival.

“This years emphasis was on keeping Japanese traditions and values alive,” said Darren Ota, Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce president and Cherry Blossom Festival general chair. “Over the eight months of cultural classes, professional development, and preparation for Festival Ball, it is our hope that the Queen Contestants have had a memorable experience that will last a lifetime. In addition to perpetuating cultural education and celebrating our Japanese heritage, we hope that Queen Contestants have built deep relationships with each other.”

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 59th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court.

Queen – Jennifer Lauren Aiko Sur
Jennifer is a 2002 graduate of Kailua High School. She is the daughter of Mona and Peter Sur. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a Minor in Speech and a Master of Arts in Speech from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Jennifer is currently a speech lecturer.

First Princess – Elizabeth Shizuko Lee-Tamanaha
Princess and Miss Congeniality – Tamlyn Sachie Pilialoha Toyama

Princess – Anya Chikako Ishida
Princess – Aileen Naomi Tamura
Miss Popularity – Traci Yoshi Hamamoto

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 – Janelle Akemi Ando

Janelle is a 2003 graduate of Roosevelt High School. She is the daughter of Lynn and Richard Ando Jr. She has earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a minor in History and Business Law from the University of Portland. Janelle is currently a hospice and palliative care nurse. 

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 sponsored by 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   

A united message of solidarity was extended to the people of Japan this evening. Guests at Festival Ball donned green ribbons bearing a miniature Japan flag. Symbolizing hope for Japan, these ribbons were thoughtfully handmade by the 59th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Contestants with the support of Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce members and the Cherry Blossom Festival steering committee. The 58th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court have collected origami cranes to send to the Tohoku region.

In honor of the strong relationships with sister Junior Chamber International chapters in Kobe, Odawara, Kurashiki, Kojima and Tamashima, the Japan Cherry Blossom Association, our Japan sponsors, our Japan award donors, and the many individuals who have been affected by this natural disaster, the Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Cherry Blossom Festival will be making a monetary donation to support the relief efforts. As a participating organization in the Aloha for Japan Committee, we have encouraged our guests to participate individually in the Japan relief efforts and have directed them to www.alohaforjapan.com.

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

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. 

# # #