The 2014 Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen candidates: (back row, from left) Kristin Mariko Matsumoto, Alison Kapola Nishiyama, Sayaa Stephanie Sakurai; (front row, from left) Alessandra Mieko Dameshghi, Kyle Sayaka Fujiki Tana. (Photo by Steve Yamaki/Images by Steven)

SAN FRANCISCO — The candidates for 2014 Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen were announced on Saturday in San Francisco Japantown.

The five candidates were introduced to the Nikkei media at the Union Bank Community Room, then appeared in Peace Plaza during the preview of the 47th annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, which will be held April 12-13 and 19-20.

Following are brief profiles:

• Alessandra Meiko Dameshghi, 25, sponsored by Benihana.

Birthplace: San Diego

College: San Francisco State University

Major: Asian American studies

Goal in life: “To be successful in my career and still be able to spend time with my family.”

Hobbies: Event planning, cake decorating, baking, cooking, swimming

Creative expression for program night: Hula

• Kristin Mariko Matsumoto, 25, sponsored by Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California

Birthplace: Mountain View

College: UC Davis

Major: Plant biology

Goal in life: “To master a craft and learn more about nature, art, and history.”

Hobbies: Fabric crafts, cooking, taiko, gardening, Gundam model building

Creative expression for program night: Taiko

• Alison Kapola Nishiyama, 25, sponsored by Takara Sake USA Inc.

Birthplace: Honolulu

College: University of San Francisco

Major: Business

Goal in life: “To empower and support the growth of others through education.”

Hobbies: Hula, taking her dogs to the beach, reading, cooking and trying new cuisines, hiking

Creative expression for program night: Hula

• Sayaa Stephanie Sakurai, 20, sponsored by Nikkei Lions Club of San Francisco

Birthplace: Mountain View

College: UC Davis

Major: Biochemistry, molecular biology

Goal in life: “To be a primary care physician and provide free health care in Third World countries.”

Hobbies: Volunteering, learning and researching, home economics, tutoring, reading

Creative expression for program night: Flute

• Kyle Sayaka Fujiki Tana, 24, sponsored by Golden Gate Optimist Club of San Francisco

Birthplace: New York City

College: UC Santa Barbara

Major: Sociology, black studies

Goal in life: “To receive an MBA or MA in education, social work or international affairs.”

Hobbies: Dancing, cooking, surfing, fashion, travel

Creative expression for program night: Contemporary dance

Speakers at the press conference included Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Committee Program Director Sarah Fedaie (2007 Tomodachi Award recipient); Queen Program Chairman Benh Nakajo; NCCBF General Co-Chairs Rich Hashimoto and Allen Okamoto.

The Queen Program will be held Saturday, April 12, at 6 p.m. at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, Post and Fillmore in Japantown. Doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $25. For more information, contact Tosh Mitsuda at (650) 871-9287 or, or visit

The 2014 Cherry Blossom Court and Nikkei courts from Los Angeles, Seattle and Honolulu will also participate in the Grand Parade on Sunday, April 20, at 1 p.m. The parade starts at City Hall and ends in Japantown.

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