Cherry Blossom Festival underway

  [ Lisa Okinaga ]
  Lisa A. Okinaga
2002 Festival Queen

This year’s Cherry Blossom Festival, one of the state’s longest running Japanese cultural celebrations, formally opened on Sunday. Thirteen contestants are participating in the festival this year, the 51st since its debut in 1953 under the guidance of the Junior Japanese Chamber of Commerce. There are thirteen young women competing this year, and four noontime appearances around the island have been planned in advance of the judges’ interviews, scheduled for March 16.

The contestants will be introduced to the public at Windward Mall on Feb. 1, at Pearlridge Shopping Center (Uptown) on Feb. 22, at the annual Heritage Fair at Kapiolani Park on March 1, and at Ala Moana Center (Centerstage) on March 2.

2002 Cherry Blossom Queen Lisa Akiko Okinaga will pass on her crown at the Festival Ball, usually held at the end of March.

The Cherry Blossom Festival celebrated its golden anniversary last year. The 50th Cherry Blossom Festival Court collaborated on a book entitled “Japanese Women of Hawaii: Japanese Women of Hawaii: A Legacy of Strength and Leadership,” which features essays by 35 diverse women ranging from judges to congresswomen to television anchors.

The essay by Faye Watanabe Kurren, president of Tesoro Hawaii, was reprinted earlier this month in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

The book will be sold at various festival events, with all proceeds going to charity.

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