Think the Cherry Blossom Festival is Just a Beauty Pageant? Here’s Why It’s Way More
The ethnic festival has evolved to focus more on cultural education and professional development.
Photo: David Croxford
Learning to play the taiko drum is part of the experience for the contestants of the 66th Cherry Blossom Festival. This ethnic festival, which started as a beauty pageant in 1953, has evolved to focus more on cultural education and professional development. In addition to learning to play traditional Japanese drums from taiko master Kenny Endo, the contestants take classes in Japanese calligraphy, ikebana and public speaking. The festival culminates with the crowning of a queen and court on March 17 at the Sheraton Waikīkī, where all 15 contestants will perform a taiko piece they learn from Endo.