Cherry Blossom Queen Candidates Announced


Standing, from left: Kaori Saito, Richelle Farley, Lauren Kawasaki. Seated, from left: Tamiko Escalante, Jeddie Kawahatsu. (Images by Steven Photography)

SAN FRANCISCO — Five candidates have been announced for the title of 2011 Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen.

The new queen will be selected at a program to be held Saturday, April 9, at 6 p.m. at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas,  Post and Fillmore in San Francisco’s Japantown. The current court — Queen Arisa Hiroi, First Princess Ashley Nakatani, Princess Corey Fujioka, Princess Kiyomi Tanaka and Princess Ayae Yamamoto — will say their farewells.

The 44th annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival will be held over two weekends, April 9-10 and 16-17, concluding with the Grand Parade, which features visiting Japanese American community queens and courts from Los Angeles, Seattle and Honolulu.

Following are profiles of this year’s candidates:

• Richelle Chiemi Farley, 19, of San Francisco, sponsored by Takara Sake USA Inc.

Education: Attending Academy of Art University in San Francisco, majoring in interior architecture and design.

Hobbies: Dancing (hula, ballet, jazz, tap, character, Obon), music (violin, viola, classical guitar, ukelele, piano), outdoor activities (surfing, hiking, swimming, camping), art (jewelry-making, painting).

Professional Ambition or Goals in Life: To obtain her bachelor’s degree in interior architecture and design in order to create more environmentally friendly homes while keeping them fresh with innovative designs from Japan and Hawaii.

• Lauren Sachi Kawasaki, 20, of Santa Cruz, sponsored by Golden Gate Optimist Club of San Francisco.

Education: Attending UC Santa Cruz, majoring in environmental studies and economics.

Hobbies: Taekwondo, volleyball, band (clarinet, tuba), scrapbooking, baking.

Professional Ambition or Goals in Life: To attain a degree in environmental studies and economics and pursue a career in marketing.

• Jeddie Narumi Kawahatsu, 21, of San Francisco, sponsored by Nikkei Lions Club of San Francisco.

Education: Currently attending University of San Francisco

Major: English with a double minor in Fine Arts and Asian American Studies

Hobbies: Hawaiian Hula Dance, Creative writing, Reading, Painting, Hiking

Professional Ambition or Goals in Life: To find a career in which she can work with children with learning differences. She would also love to travel the world and publish her writing in the future.

• Kaori Saito, 20, of San Rafael, sponsored by Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California.

Education: Attending College of Marin, majoring in communications.

Hobbies: Spending time with family and friends, singing, playing sports (tennis, dance, stand-up paddle surfing), reading, baking.

Professional Ambition or Goals in Life: To become a broadcaster to help connect people from all over the world and contribute to the world she lives in.

• Tamiko Escalante, 24, of Richmond, sponsored by Benihana.

Education: Graduated from Boston University in 2010 with a BS in business management with concentration in entrepreneurship.

Hobbies: Coordinating the El Cerrito Relay for Life event, coaching and playing basketball, practicing Wado-Kai karate, attending hip-hop dance class.

Professional Ambition or Goals in Life: To become an optometrist. She not only wants to maintain her patients’ sense of vision, but also their overall health because she realizes that each part of the body is connected. She is striving for a career in which her work is for the prevention of health issues since she believes that the best way to solve a problem is to not let that problem develop in the first place.

Tickets for the program are $25. For more information, contact Tosh Mitsuda at (650) 871-9287 or [email protected].

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