Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates Japanese culture

Photo credit: Armando Zelaya

Heavy drumsticks pounding rhythmically on large drums as cherry blossoms flutter in the light breeze.

This was the scene at El Camino’s annual Dr. Nadine Ishitani Hata Memorial Cherry Blossom Festival, which took place on March 5 and featured everything from Taiko drumming to student-written haikus.

Taiko Center of Los Angeles provided the main entertainment with their energetic drumming. Rev. Tom Kurai of the Taiko Center also performed a Japanese version of the Lion Dance, during which he donned a dragon costume and pranced around.

Kurai described the viewing of the blossoming of the cherry blossoms as a “national pastime in Japan.”

“I’m glad (El Camino) continues (the festival) every year at this time when the cherry blossoms bloom in Japan,” Kurai said, “The event is very significant.”

During the festival, students Emma Nazario and Rafael Torres were presented with the 2015 Dr. Nadine Ishitani Hata Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is an award for health science majors at El Camino College that has been in place for ten years and was established by Dr. Hata before she died.

Torres, 24, radiology tech major, who will use the scholarship to attend CSU Dominguez Hills, referred to the scholarship as “absolutely motivating.”

“Hard work pays off,” Torres said about the journey to receive this scholarship, “I’ve been blessed along the way.”

Another form of entertainment at the festival was the performance from Clint Margrave’s English 24A class, in which they presented haikus they had written.

The coming and going of the cherry blossoms represents the “importance of experiencing and enjoying the moment,” Dean of Humanities Tom Lew said on the significance of this event.

To learn more about the 2015 Cherry Blossom Festival, go here.