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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.

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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.

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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

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Queen Program (1)

Queen Program (2)

Queen Program (3)

Queen Program (4)

Queen Program (5)

Queen Program (6)

Queen Program (7)

Queen Program (8)

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US Japan Taiko Festival 2010

US Japan Taiko Festival 2010

The US Japan Taiko Festival was held this year at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas located in San Francisco’s Japantown. In the largest theater the taiko drumming groups performed two separate sets, but the finale both groups came together and played.

The show was open to the public and tickets were sold for $30 with a $5 discount towards students and seniors. The program featured Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka & San Francisco Taiko Dojo, SF Taiko Dojo Rising Stars and special guests from Japan were Hoya Wadaiko Kai and Bungo Kurenai Taiko.

The performance was pretty amazing. Synchronized drumming without any flaws is something that is hard to do. Practice makes perfect, one can say. Having two groups perform back to back was truly something special. In my opinion the performance was not long enough, but there’s always other shows and festivals to catch taiko drumming. The performance I believe was a great success because the seats were filled and guests seemed to enjoy the night by basking in the rhythms of taiko.

Having experienced this event for the first time, it is simply amazing. There’s a first for everything and listening to it outside in the streets of San Francisco is one thing, but listening to it inside of a movie theater is totally a new and different experience. If you would like to experience it please come and check it out next year or for upcoming events please check out the SF Taiko Dojo website at www.sftaiko.com

Pictures of the US Japan Taiko Festival  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.

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Cherry Blossom Festival 2010

cherry-blossom-festival-20101

The Cherry Blossom Festival once again never fails to be a fabulous festival and by no means does it get boring year after year. It’s a great Japanese cultural festival traditionally held here in San Francisco’s Japantown. The festival was held for two weekends this year in April and this year the weather was a little unpredictable. The first weekend of the festival it had rained and it really put a damper on attendance.

Although poor weather was present the first weekend, it did not rain on their parade, no pun intended. The second weekend of the festival received great sunny weather. It actually felt like summer in San Francisco for once.

Great things were to be seen at the festival with awesome cultural dances, cultural music, taiko drumming, cultural films, arts and crafts, an origami exhibit, a bonsai tree exhibit, a Japanese paper doll exhibit, a samurai sword exhibit, import cars, live jazz and funk bands, mochi making, great food, and much much more.

Probably the most interesting exhibit at the festival would have to be the Japanese paper doll exhibit. So much time and effort must be put into them that it shows in the final result. The precision that one must have to undergo is just astounding. The paper dolls were very colorful and full of life and you would not have guessed that the clothing would have been made out of folded and cut paper. Pictures of this exhibit and a few other exhibits I mentioned can be found on the link from the next posting.

Great fun and entertainment, the Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the greatest cultural festivals that is held here in San Francisco. If you haven’t checked it be sure to mark it on your calendars for next year because it will be a great time, you can count on that.

Pictures of the Cherry Blossom Festival 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.

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San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF) Closing Night

SFIAAFF Closing Night 2010 (click here for images)

The San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF) is the largest Asian American Film Venue in the country. The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) played host for it in San Francisco and this year CAAM celebrates it’s 30th year as an established Asian American organization.

The closing night feature film, Au Revoir Taipei, written and directed by Arvin Chen, ended the film festivities for the festival. The cast and crew that were present at the screening were filmmaker Arvin Chen, producers In-Ah Lee and Philipp Steffens, co-producer Michelle Cho, editor Justin Guerrieri, cinematographer Michael Fimognari, and actor Lawrence Ko.

The film was a comedic creative piece about a guy who falls in love for this girl that works in a bookstore, the cat and mouse adventures of wannabe gangsters led on by their boss, and the food, scenes, and other sights around the city of Taipei.

Prior to the screening of Au Revoir Taipei, special awards went out to:

Narrative Competition Best Narrative Feature: DEAR LEMON LIMA, Dir. Suzi Yoonessi

Special Jury Award: THE MOUNTAIN THIEF, Dir. Gerry Balasta

Jury Recognition for Visual Achievement: FOG, Dir. Kit Hui

Best Documentary Feature: WO AI NI MOMMY, Directed by Stephanie Wang-Breal

Following the film guests moved on over to Temple Nightclub to end the festivities here in San Francisco. Filmmakers, actors, and guests came to celebrate the night away with drinks, music, mingling, and dancing.

Pictures of the closing night 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.

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San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival

SFIAAFF (click here for images)

The San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF) is the largest Asian American Film Venue in the country. The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) played host for it in San Francisco and this year CAAM celebrates it’s 30th year as an established Asian American organization.

This year as in the couple of years back the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas played home to the majority of films that were selected to be played at this year’s festival. Other various venues were the Castro Theatre, Viz Cinema, Japantown Peace Plaza, Landmark Clay Theatre, and the Pacific Film Archive Theater.

With the festival in full swing, guests purchased tickets online or at the theaters. Festival goers who are members of the Center of Asian American Media are given special priority in purchasing tickets about a week before ticket sales are open to the public. A highly encouraged way to make sure you get tickets is to join the organization. More information can be found on their website here.

On location of the theaters guests arrive at least 20 minutes prior to seating to ensure the first come first served policy. People that do not have tickets are encouraged to get to the theater much more in advance and try to buy tickets at the box office or take their chances in the rush line. The rush line is a no guarantee chance at purchasing a seat in the theater. Ticket holders that do not attend the screening basically forfeit their seat and ticket and a guest waiting in the rush line can purchase an open seat if available. Highly stressful to be in such a line because there are no guarantees and one can be standing in line and end up being turned away.

Throughout the festival there were about 108 films shown. Films were rated by patrons to determine the best films of the festival and are also judged by a small select panel of judges for special jury awards in a couple of categories.

The following are the results of the top festival award winners in their respective categories:

Narrative Competition Best Narrative Feature: DEAR LEMON LIMA, Dir. Suzi Yoonessi

Special Jury Award: THE MOUNTAIN THIEF, Dir. Gerry Balasta

Jury Recognition for Visual Achievement: FOG, Dir. Kit Hui

Best Documentary Feature: WO AI NI MOMMY, Directed by Stephanie Wang-Breal

COMCAST AUDIENCE AWARD:

Best Narrative Feature: AU REVOIR TAIPEI, Dir. Arvin Chen

Best Documentary Feature (tie):  IN THE MATTER OF CHA JUNG HEE, Directed by Deann Borshay Liem

and A VILLAGE CALLED VERSAILLES, Directed by S. Leo Chiang

More information on the festival award winners can be found here.
Pictures of the film festival 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.