Essays reflect on
Japanese cultural legacy

Star-Bulletin staff

Members of the 50th Cherry Blossom Festival Court had a busy year in 2002. In addition to public appearances representing the Japanese community, the six women put together a book of essays written by some of Hawaii's Japanese-American women leaders.

The book, "Japanese Women of Hawaii: A Legacy of Strength and Leadership," features 35 women, ages 25 to 80, from different walks of life, including politics, education, business, law, medicine, entertainment and media.

Included are former Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, anchorwoman Jade Moon, state Auditor Marion Higa, former Congresswoman Patricia Saiki, Judge Marie Milks and more. (Tesoro Hawaii Corp. President Faye Watanabe Kurren's essay is reprinted here.)

A special page dedicated to the late Patsy Mink is also featured, with comments from Hirono and Milks.

Members of the 50th Cherry Blossom Festival Court, who worked on "Japanese Women of Hawaii: A Legacy of Strength and Leadership," are, from left, princess Michele Nakata, princess and Miss Popularity Mina Hashimoto, first princess Katie Young, queen Lisa Okinaga, princess Charlene Sakuma and Miss Congeniality Nicole Kuwahara.

"We want the book to serve as a bridge between generations of Japanese women sharing their experiences," said 50th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Lisa Okinaga.

The essays in the book reflect how the women feel their Japanese heritage influenced their careers and personal lives.

The court's first princess, Katie Young, also a MidWeek reporter, said the essays "reveal a sense of how values such as responsibility and humility are passed from generation to generation.

"It was very grassroots, very low budget, but we wanted it to be user friendly," she said.

"I was so impressed that all these women took time out of their busy schedules to think about how they were influenced by their culture. It really touched me."

Copies of the book will be available for $10 at the 51st Cherry Blossom Festival public appearances, including events at Kahala Mall, Jan. 25; Windward Mall, Feb. 1; and the Heritage Fair at Kapiolani Park, March 1.

All proceeds from book sales will be donated to Angel Network Charities, an organization that provides food, clothing, health care and housing to women and children in need.

For more information, call Young at 780-4466.

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