Kaelyn Sachiko Okuhata

Photo of Cherry Blossom Queen Contestant, Kaelyn Okuhata
Kaelyn Okuhata

Parents: Kevin and Lori Okuhata

High School: King Kekaulike High School (Hawai‘i Island), 2012

College/Degree/Year: Chapman University, bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in marketing and a minor in art studio, 2016

“What does kokoro mean to you?”

“Last winter in the Colorado Rockies, I saw snowfall for the first time. Although it was six in the morning and 30 degrees outside, everything was perfect. As I stood in silence and observed the first rays of sunlight glistening on each delicate snowflake, my heart, mind, and spirit were completely connected. At that ‘kokoro’ moment, time slowed down to allow me to fully grasp how beautiful it was to just exist. My heart skipped a beat, my mind was at ease, and my spirit was lifted by this precious gift of nature. Obtaining kokoro is to observe one’s heart, mind, and spirit coming together, leaving no desire for anything else. Fully appreciating every moment in life, like your first snowfall, makes each day a blessing.”

Heather Kiyomi Omori

Photo of Cherry Blossom Queen Contestant, Heather Omori
Heather Omori

Parents: Terence and Bridget Omori

High School: Mililani High School, 2008

College/Degree/Year: University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa, bachelor’s degree in psychology, 2011; University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa, master’s degree in elementary education, 2013.

“What does kokoro mean to you?”

“Growing up, I was surrounded by family, friends, coaches, and teachers in my community who helped shape the values I live by. My heart feels, my mind thinks, and my body acts, but to me kokoro is more than just this, it is the complete balance of all three parts. With the purest intentions, I practiced these values until they become habits, which and then these habits became my way of life. Living in the moment and enjoying every aspect of life, has allowed me to grow empathetic and think positively toward others.  As an educator, I teach the importance of community relationships and the act of giving while expecting nothing in return with my students. This is kokoro, doing good in secret and being known for your integrity as a human by being recognized by others. I continue to live my life with purpose and mindful acts of kindness.”

Michelle Sachi Ota

Photo of Cherry Blossom Queen Contestant, Michelle Ota
Michelle Ota

Parents: Fred and Shelley Ota

High School: Pearl City High School, 2008

College/Degree/Year: University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa, bachelor’s degree in business administration – marketing and international business, 2012.

“What does kokoro mean to you?”

“When I entered Class 5, four girls rushed over to introduce themselves. That day I met Junna, Sakura, Kana, and Kokoro. Kokoro is not the physical heart, but the spirit and strength that motivate us. Kokoro is also the name of one of my first students. She and her friends became a source of strength for me as a teacher. Those girls warmed my heart, but others were harder to connect with. But I continued reaching out to the more difficult students. They slowly began replying to my greetings, became more attentive during classes, and made their ways into my heart, too. Although we aren’t together anymore, all of my students still motivate me. Kokoro is not just a word nor a single person to me. It is a collection of students, friends and family members who constantly give me strength and have become part of who I am today.”

Roxanne Näpualani Takaesu

Photo of Cherry Blossom Queen Contestant, Roxanne Takaesu
Roxanne Takaesu

Parents: Charles and Edwina Takaesu

High School: Kamehameha Schools, 2011

College/Degree/Year: University of Hawai’i at Mänoa, bachelor’s of fine arts degree in dance performance, 2015.

“What does kokoro mean to you?”

“The Japanese concept of kokoro, which refers to the heart, mind, and spirit, has played a major role in my life. My belief is that to be a genuine person you will need a good connection with your kokoro. One major way that I connect to my kokoro is through dance. While dancing, I am able to connect with my heart, mind, and spirit. Through the movement I am able to fully project my emotions and feelings. In a sense, I can feel my spirit dancing. Although cliché, I consider the mantra ‘give it your all,’ as giving your kokoro. Giving everything I have to everything I do, as nothing of worth comes from anything done half-hearted, half-minded, or half-spirited, is my life perspective. This concept of kokoro has brought out the best of me, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.”


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