Announcing the 60th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court

 Saturday, March 31, 2012
 Contact: Sean Nakamura
 Cherry Blossom Festival, Public Relations Chair

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 or call 808-949-2255. Visit our Facebook page at or follow our Twitter account at

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.