Henry Perrine Baldwin High School junior Emma Mika Endo, 16, was crowned the 67th Chrysanthemum Festival queen at the Kïhei Community Center on Dec. 7. Endo is the daughter of Randall and Patti Endo of Wailuku, Maui. Rounding out the Chrysanthemum Festival court were princesses:
• Alexis Camara, 16, of Makawao, a junior at King Kekaulike High School and the daughter of Ginger and August Camara;
• Lauren Mitra, 16, of Kahului, a junior at Maui High School and the daughter of Michele and Ramon Mitra;
• Kokoro Yamazaki, 16, of Lahaina, a junior at Lahainaluna High School and the daughter of Ai and Megumi Hironaka; and
• Cassidy Hanano, 17, of Wailuku, a junior at Kamehameha Schools Maui and the daughter of Peter and Trudy Hanano.
The queen is the contestant who raises the most money for the festival’s sponsor, Maui’s Sons and Daughters of the Nisei Veterans. She achieves that goal through festival ticket sales and donations. Proceeds from the festival are used to fund scholarships and historical preservation projects of Maui’s Sons and Daughters of the Nisei Veterans. The projects are done jointly with the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center.
The festival also included an essay contest for the contestants and their escorts on a subject relating to Japanese cultural values and their impact on the AJAs who fought in World War II. This year’s winners were Queen Emma Endo in the girls category and Cael Yasutake in the boys category. Yasutake was the escort of Princess Kokoro Yamazaki.
The Japanese word, chugi, or loyalty, was this year’s essay topic. The essays addressed each writer’s understanding of the concept of chugi, the role it played in the lives of the Nisei soldiers in World War II and how it could be a useful value to adopt in the writer’s life. Cash prizes were awarded to the entrants.
Maui Sons and Daughters president Leonard Oka noted that a major purpose of the organization and the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center “is to perpetuate the history of our fathers, who served so gallantly in World War II.” He noted that it is just as important for the Sons and Daughters organization to understand and pass on the values that were ingrained in the Nisei soldiers by their Issei parents.
The Chrysanthemum Festival contestants will represent Maui’s Sons and Daughters and the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center at various events throughout 2020.
The festival was originally created as the Chrysanthemum Ball by the Maui AJA Veterans Inc. as a way to fund its community service projects in areas such as youth sports and scholarships. The veterans club was formed as the largely Nisei AJA soldiers returned to Maui from the European and Asia-Pacific theaters after World War II.