THE HEART OF KANJI: Cherry Blossom Festival

桜 (Sakura) means “cherry blossom,” which consists of three parts. The left side represents a tree; the top right side represents a cherry flower necklace; and below that is a woman sitting. Together, the cherry blossom resembles a beautiful woman wearing a cherry blossom. 祭り (Matsuri) means “festival,” which consists of two parts. The top […]

Kelly Yuka Walton crowned 2013 Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen

Kelly Yuka Walton, an eighth-grade math teacher who grew up in San Francisco, was crowned the 2013 Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen April 13 during the annual Queen Program, held at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas in San Francisco’s Japantown. “It’s been a lifelong dream to participate in this program,” Walton, 25, said after her win. “I […]

NorCal community raises relief funds for Northern Japan at Cherry Blossom Festival

Joining communities all over the world in taking action, San Francisco’s Japanese-speaking and Japanese American communities have been using art, food and other aspects of their culture to raise funds for the relief efforts following the March 11 earthquake, tsunami, and ongoing nuclear crisis. As it did to aid the Japan during previous times of […]

Otagaisama: We help each other

I’m not an expert on Japanese culture and customs, but as I observe what’s happening in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami, I am confident that the country and its people will eventually recover and rebuild their lives because of one key concept and way of life that is deeply embedded in the Japanese spirit: “Otagaisama” (helping […]

Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates Sister City ties and calls for relief

CUPERTINO, Calif. — The 28th annual Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival honoring the Sister City relationship with Toyokawa, Japan will be held Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Memorial Park on Stevens Creek Boulevard across from De Anza College. In 1983, a delegation from Toyokawa, Japan visited […]

ORIGAMI, THE ART: Supporting the community and embracing a wider audience

Since the first Festival, the Mihara family — owners of Paper Tree, a paper specialty store — have offered free origami instruction as part of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival. The Mihara sisters, Linda and Vicky, have fond memories of teaching children to fold paper at the Festival — starting when they were kids […]

Jeddie Kawahatsu crowned 2011 Northern CA Cherry Blossom Festival queen

After an evening of speeches, dancing and music — striking a balance between joyous celebration and somber reflection on the devastation in Northeastern Japan — San Francisco native Jeddie Narumi Kawahatsu, 21, was crowned 2011 Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival queen. At Sundance Kabuki Cinemas in San Francisco’s Japantown on April 9, candidates Kaori Saito, […]

STRONG, GENTLE AND BEAUTIFUL: Judo master Keiko Fukuda’s legacy

2011 Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Co-Grand Marshal Keiko Fukuda photo courtesy of Yuriko Gamo Romer   Despite being the highest ranking female judo master in the world, Keiko Fukuda is relentlessly modest. This year, at age 98, she was honored at the National Japanese American Historical Society awards dinner, and has been selected as […]

MASTER OF CEREMONIES: The Festival, through the eyes of the Parade’s voice

Since the early 1970s, George Yamasaki Jr. has been the voice of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. As emcee, Yamasaki narrates the Parade action as it runs its course — and has had plenty of experience thinking on his feet as floats stall or the order of participants changes without notice. Yamasaki, who […]

YONSEI RAPPERS ON A HIP-HOP JOURNEY: ScoJourners claim their history and connect across borders through rap

It’s not easy being independent these days. All the harder if you are a group of hip-hop artists committed to musical integrity in an era of the corporatized, cookie-cutter music. Even tougher when you are Asian Americans, meaning you don’t exactly fit the mold of the generic rapper. But galvanized by a love for the […]

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