Sharing the strength of the plum blossom

California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) held the Festival of Languages, Cultures, and Ideas on March 17 and 18. The theme for the festival was Voices Together: Reuniting and Rebuilding Communities.

The World Theater music program for Friday’s performances explained the purpose of the festival is to bring “together all the members of the CSUMB community to celebrate our connections in a global world and emphasize the value of cultural diversity.”

The last event of the festival was a musical performance by the Watsonville Taiko Group and Shinsho-Mugen Daiko, titled Five Fortunes of the Plum Blossom. Taiko is a wide range of Japanese percussion instruments and it is a tradition to have them present at festivals to welcome the changing of seasons.

The Watsonville Taiko Group was created back in 1991 by Jim Hooker with the intention to spread the joy of Taiko throughout Monterey County. In the description on their website it states, “Through a wide range of classes and performances, we offer the chance for people to become involved in both music and their communities. We emphasize ‘folk art’, which values people’s participation with others in order to keep traditions alive.”

Shinsho-Mugen Daiko was founded back in 1999 by Ikuyo Conact, Watsonville Taiko’s artistic director. In Japanese, Shinsho means “celestial bodies” and Mugen means “source of dreams.” The group incorporates a modern style of Taiko with movements and powerful sounds.

In the months of February and March, a national phenomenon takes place across Japan as the plum blossoms begin to bloom. They are said to bring five fortunes as they flower: longevity, wealth, health, virtue, and destiny.

Watsonville Taiko and Shinsho-Mugen Daiko work together to share the strength and fortune of the plum blossom with their community through their art form. In the program’s event description, it mentioned that the groups “are seeking to mark the transition between our long-endured winter and this new, hopeful spring. Through Taiko drumming, we will shake off the torpor of the cold and breathe life into a new chapter of our lives.”

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