El Camino’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival returns after hiatus


Cherry blossoms near the Students Services Plaza bloom on March 15. The spring season has officially started on March 20. (Charlie Chen | The Union)

El Camino’s Cherry Blossom Festival is returning to campus after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 on Thursday, March 31 at 1:15 p.m. in the Student Services Plaza.

With the return of the festival also comes the return of honoring the college’s former Vice President of Academic Affairs, the late Nadine Ishitani Hata, who started the festival 22 years ago with the help of the American Honda Motor Company who donated cherry blossom trees.

This year’s 20th Cherry Blossom Festival, which would have been the 22nd annual event if not for the loss of the last two years, has multiple events planned and complementary food.

The festival includes poetry readings from Rhea Lewitzki, an associate English professor, a professional taiko drumming performance by a group called Mujo Dream Flight and a plaque dedication to Hata and the blossoms, all alongside Japanese snacks.

El Camino’s non-profit organization, the El Camino College Foundation, as well as the humanities department helps run the festival each year.

“Since the beginning, humanities has always been involved,” Associate Dean of Humanities, Scott Kushigemachi said. “The Foundation is also very involved because they stay connected to Dr. Hata’s husband, Don Hata.”

Don Hata is scheduled to speak at the festival as he does every year, continuing his wife’s legacy at El Camino.