Voices of the Cherry Blossom Festival

The Cherry Blossom Festival was created to perpetuate the Japanese culture and to enrich the lives of young Japanese-American women. It has since grown into one of the longest continually running ethnic festival in the State of Hawaii. Over the past 63 years the Cherry Blossom Festival has touched the lives of many, especially the 1,047 women it has called contestants. Read how their experience with the Festival has impacted their lives:

Paula Miyashiro Kurashige
11th CBF first Princess & Miss Congeniality

"I do remember the happy times that we had, the fellowship that was more a journey fellowship, not the end result, not necessarily thinking about the win but thinking about the experiences we had together...I look back on the Festival as being one, again, of the very happy moments in my life."

Jill Koide
52nd CBF Contestant

"I really gained a sense of belief in myself. Before the Festival I was just afraid to speak in front of people and to share my values with others. I really felt that the Cherry Blossom Festival helped me to gain a sense of self and confidence and a belief that I CAN do it."

Catherine Toth fox
49th CBF Queen & Miss Congeniality
55th CBF Co-General chair

"I think the one thing I took away from my experience running in the Cherry Blossom Festival were the friendships I had made...and to this day we still meet for Christmas and birthdays and baby luaus now, and wedding showers. And I feel that that was the most rewarding part of the experience that I walked away with."

Gail Koide Marumoto
31st CBF Queen

"[Cherry Blossom Festival] really helped to develop my passion for what I like to do now, which is community service work. And it started then, from the time I was involved with the Festival...and it continues to be a really big part of my life now."

Sydette Nekota Higuchi
50th CBF Contestant
60th cbf general chair

"I've met so many different people...and a lot of them become lifetime friends, just from this experience."

Tanya Masunaga leong
57th CBF Miss Congeniality

"Through the Cherry Blossom Festival, I have gained knowledge about my culture, lasting friendships and a passion to give back to a community who has given me so much. But the one lesson I will cherish is gaining self-confidence. The Festival has taught me how to stand with poise in front of a crowd of a thousand people and speak from the heart."