Bay Area Life

Life through the viewfinder

By

46th Annual Cherry Blossom Queen Program

Cherry Blossom Queen 2013, Kelly Yuka Walton and her court.

Cherry Blossom Queen 2013, Kelly Yuka Walton and her court.

The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival hosted its 46th program this past Saturday at the Sundance Kabuki Cinema. The theme for this year’s program was Back to Basics. Returning to the stage to emcee the event was Jana Katsuyama of KTVU and George Kiriyama of NBC Bay Area.

To honor and remember the earthquake and tsunami that occurred two years ago in Japan, the five queen candidates each wore teal ribbons and the festival’s 45th year pin to symbolize that their thoughts are still with the victims and survivors.

Queen candidates each presented their own speech, conducted an impromptu interview, and each one graced the stage with their creative expression presentation. For their creative expression segment, three candidates performed dance, one created and presented a short film, and one candidate drew using inspiration from the audience.

The results for this year’s program are as follows:

  • Cherry Blossom Queen Kelly Yuka Walton
  • First Princess Jamie Sachiko Martyn
  • Tomodachi Award Recipient Tiffany Sieu Okimura
  • Prince Kimberly Miya Sasaki
  • Prince Michiko Marie Maggi

 

Cherry Blossom Queen Kelly received a kimono and accessory set courtesy of Fujiyasu Kimono Company. She also received a trip to Japan courtesy of Japan Airlines and the Queen Award presented by Allen Okamoto.

Cherry Blossom Queen, Kelly Yuka Walton, along with her court will be a part of the Cherry Blossom Festival Grand Parade on Sunday, April 21st at 1pm.

Follow me on Twitter at @MJPhotographySF or Facebook at www.facebook.com/mjphotographysf 

Cherry Blossom 2012 Queen and court.

Cherry Blossom 2012 Queen and court.

The 2013 Cherry Blossom Queen’s Kimono created by Fujiyasu Kimono Company.

The 2013 Cherry Blossom Queen’s Kimono created by Fujiyasu Kimono Company.

The candidates display their kimonos during the opening routine.

The candidates display their kimonos during the opening routine.

Kimberly Miya Sasaki gives her individual speech.

Kimberly Miya Sasaki gives her individual speech.

Jamie Sachiko Martyn bows to the audience after her individual speech.

Jamie Sachiko Martyn bows to the audience after her individual speech.

Kelly Yuka Walton gives her individual speech.

Kelly Yuka Walton gives her individual speech.

Emcees Jana Katsuyama of KTVU and George Kiriyama of NBC Bay Area present candidates with questions to answer during the individual impromptu interviews.

Emcees Jana Katsuyama of KTVU and George Kiriyama of NBC Bay Area present candidates with questions to answer during the individual impromptu interviews.

Jamie Sachiko Martyn answers her question during the impromptu interview.

Jamie Sachiko Martyn answers her question during the impromptu interview.

Michiko Marie Maggi explains her film.

Michiko Marie Maggi explains her film.

Tiffany Sieu Okimura performs an Odori dance.

Tiffany Sieu Okimura performs an Odori dance.

Tiffany Sieu Okimura performs an Odori dance.

Another image of Tiffany Sieu Okimura’s Odori dance.

Jamie Sachiko Martyn freely draws using inspiration from the audience of what to draw.

Jamie Sachiko Martyn freely draws using inspiration from the audience of what to draw.

Jamie Sachiko Martyn is crowned the Cherry Blossom First Princess.

Jamie Sachiko Martyn is crowned the Cherry Blossom First Princess.

Kelly Yuka Walton is crowned as the 2013 Cherry Blossom Queen.

Kelly Yuka Walton is crowned as the 2013 Cherry Blossom Queen.

 

Kelly Yuka Walton is crowned and presented with the kimono from the Fujiyasu Kimono Company.

Kelly Yuka Walton is crowned and presented with the kimono from the Fujiyasu Kimono Company.

By

45th Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Grand Parade

CBF 2012

The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Grand Parade hit the streets of San Francisco yesterday. Starting at City Hall, sharing space right next to this year’s Earth Day San Francisco, and finishing off in the heart of Japantown. The Grand Parade caps off two weeks of live entertainment in music, cultural dance performances, cultural arts, martial arts, education, and so much more.

The weather seemed to cooperate with San Franciscan’s this weekend. Saturday having hot and sunny skies, while Sunday brought dense fog early and then broke apart a bit towards the later afternoon. As long as there was no rain, it’s perfect weather in San Francisco and a great day for a parade.

The parade had the usual units that attend annually, but what makes this parade a great one is that so much of the Japanese culture is shown all in just a two-hour span, from music to dance. Highlights of the parade are seeing the little children march down with their classmates supporting their schools or community centers, visiting pageant queens and their courts from Seattle, Honolulu, and LA, the past year and current reigning queens and court of San Franciso as well, demonstrations in martial arts or sword weaponry, taiko drumming, and the carrying of different Japanese shrines.

The one unit that surprisingly brought back memories growing up in San Francisco was an old Muni bus that drove down the route. It was of the old days, though freshly painted, and I can still remember riding it to and from home. My earliest memories on that style of bus was that you can ring the bell to inform the driver to stop multiple times. Now you can only pull the string for the bell once or “push” a button. The time that I can remember the most was ringing the bell almost eight times before I almost got in trouble because I was so excited to hear that chime, the driver was nice enough not to yell at me and traumatize me for life. Ahh those were the days. One more thing, I just remembered, do you even remember when the bus windows would rust or get stuck and they’d never open or close? Do you also remember that they seem to have stronger engines and drove faster than the ones that we have today? They broke down a lot more back then than they do now and less pollution are the benefits of a new fleet.

Anyhow, going back to the parade, the parade was lots of fun seeing familes and friends enjoy themselves and myself also being able to see friends that I’ve met throughout the years. It’s just a fun and exciting place to be every year and that’s one of the main reasons why I attend.

Following the parade, music entertainment resumed, the annual anime fashion show took to the stage, and the food booths were constantly busy. My mouth waters just thinking about the good eats.

(If you like this post and would like to see more photographs please like and follow me on my Facebook page)

Pageant Queens and their courts, and distinguished guests
The President of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California, Pageant Queens and their courts, Consul General of Japan, and Festival Co-Chairman

2012's Miss San Francisco, Miss Golden Gate, Miss SF Outstanding Teen, Miss GG Outstanding Teen
2012′s Miss San Francisco, Miss Golden Gate, Miss SF Outstanding Teen, Miss GG Outstanding Teen

CBF 2012 (3)

CBF 2012 (4)

2012 Cherry Blossom Festival Queen of Honolulu

CBF 2012 (5)

CBF 2012 (6)

CBF 2012 (7)

CBF 2012 (8)

CBF 2012 (9)

CBF 2012 (10)

CBF 2012 (11)

Do you remember riding these buses? I even think they're faster than the ones today!

Do you remember riding these buses? I even think they're faster than the ones today!

CBF 2012 (12)

2012 Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and her Court

CBF 2012 (13)

CBF 2012 (14)

CBF 2012 (15)

CBF 2012 (16)

(If you like this post and would like to see more photographs please like and follow me on my Facebook page)

By

45th Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Program

Queen Program

The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Program last night put on it’s 45th Annual Program. This year five lovely ladies competed for the queen title. Miki Fukai, Asaki Osato, Megumi Yoshida, Manami Kidera, and Chihiro Hirai put on a great show at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas in Japantown.

Scoring for the competition was broken up into five catagories: Essay (15%), Personal Interview (20%), Introduction Speech (20%), On-Stage Interview (30%), and Talent (15%)

The competition started off with introduction speeches in traditional kimonos, the ladies then sat down to answer five questions with a 4-minute limit, but none of the contestants used up their whole time. The ladies then presented gifts to their sponsors followed up with the talent portion of the program.

Talent portion started with Chihiro Hirai who performed a monologue. Manami Kidera sang a song in Japanese. Asaki Osato danced to her own choreographed dance. Miki Fukai played the trumpet with accompanied music. Megumi Yoshida sang a song in English with an accompanied bass player.

Following the talent portion, some awards were given out and the 2011 Cherry Blossom Queen and her court came up on stage. Queen Jeddie Kawahatsu gave her closing remarks about her court and she thanked them individually.

Lastly, the ladies came out on stage in their evening wear and performed a quick routine before they lined up to have the winners announced. When the names were being called the moment that was unforgettable was when the Queen was to be announced. Asaki Osato was stunned to find out that her name was being called. She was in disbelief. As she was being sashed and crowned she gave out a couple of confused-like grunts as if she couldn’t believe it. This made parts of the audience laugh as the theater was silent with no background music. Everyone could hear her and see her smirks. Just made me laugh inside, but trust me I was trying to keep my composure as a photographer.

Overall, the program was good though this is one of the first pageants that I’ve been to that had less than at least nine contestants. The lighting was a bit disappointing, but then again, this is moreso a movie theater and not really a theater focusing on live performances, though there are performances there sometimes.

Queen Program results for 2012:

Queen: Asaki Osato

1st Princess: Megumi Yoshida

Tomodachi Award Recipient (Miss Congeniality): Miki Fukai

(If you like this post and would like to see more photographs please follow me and like my Facebook page)

Queen Program (1)

Queen Program (2)

Queen Program (3)

Queen Program (4)

Queen Program (5)

Queen Program (6)

Queen Program (7)

Queen Program (8)

(If you like this post and would like to see more photographs please follow me and like my Facebook page)

By

Cherry Blossom Festival and Grand Parade 2010

Cherry Blossom Festival and Grand Parade 2010 (click here for images)

The Cherry Blossom Grand Parade was held this year on one of the warmest days that San Francisco has had this year thus far. The parade started in the early afternoon and lasted for about two hours. Meanwhile in the morning, there were tons to see and do. I eventually spent most of my time observing a few exhibits at the Hotel Kabuki. There I got to see some pretty awesome exhibits.

There were four main exhibits that were shown on Sunday and they were the origami exhibit, the bonsai tree exhibit, the paper doll exhibit, and the samurai sword exhibit. My favorite of the four was the paper dolls exhibit. Such great craftsmanship had gone into them that I felt like taking one home; however to my dismay, they were not for sale.

The Grand Parade featured a few local schools, local politicians and dignitaries, pageant contestants and queens, taiko drum troopes, other music groups, men and women from our local law enforcement, along with our fire department, and much much more. The finale of the parade was the highlight for most festival goers with two men whom are half naked on top of a sake keg carrying device who are being rocked side to side and men who toss sake into the air. It is said that the more the sake carrying device is rocked from side to side the more fortune it will bring.

Following the parade, the festival still kept going strong with their exhibits, bands hitting the stages once again, food vendors cooking up a storm, performances rocking the stage in Peace Plaza, and the festival finished off with an annual raffle where winners were pulled by the beautiful ladies of the Cherry Blossom Queens Program.

No plans for next year for two of the weekends in April, well make sure you pencil in a day at the Cherry Blossom Festival here in SF. It will not be disappointing, unless it rains of course.

Pictures of the holiday party can be seen by clicking on the picture link above. If this post was informative and helpful, please feel free to leave me a comment or donation below. Thank you.