to the Mountain in 2010 (with Matsumaya). Matsuyama seems to have become more deeply involved in the world-music arena, fulfilling a busy performance schedule that is heavy on East-West collaboration. Nakamura was a founder of the Shumei Taiko Ensemble, which he currently directs. A form of drumming that requires supreme physical conditioning and unflagging concentration, taiko can prove viscerally thrilling to the listener. And yet, Nakamura has stated, it is at heart a spiritual exercise: “Taiko directly reflects the player’s mind in both sound and attitude. No matter what form art takes, there cannot be any eminent works of art without an elevated sense of spirituality on the part of the artist. It is obvious that there is no way to improve one’s taiko skills except through an accumulation of humble efforts and hard training.”
Apart from the headliners, the festival features a full schedule of other performances and activities, including music from the Smokin’ Bachi Taiko ensemble, based in Santa Fe; songs and dances performed by students from the Santa Fe JIN Language School (a program supported entirely by the host organization); demonstrations of Japanese archery ( kyudo) and karate; and handson workshops in calligraphy and origami. A traditional favorite among the presentations is the Japanese tea ceremony, which will be explained by members of Chado New Mexico (a local tea group) and which visitors may sample personally for much of the afternoon.
In the past, admission to the Santa Fe JIN Cultural Festival has been free. This year, the group decided to institute a very nominal entry fee of $2 to help defray its costs. But the earthquake and tsunami changed everything. “We’ve been crying every day since what happened,” Kobayashi said, “but we saw in this an opportunity to offer something to assist under the circumstances.” The organization will therefore donate all of the admission fees to Japan Aid of Santa Fe, which will funnel the money to Japanese relief programs. She hopes that attendees will consider donating further to the relief fund, which they will have ample opportunity to do at the festival. What’s more, Yabe will be available to inscribe whatever attendees would like on a special paper she is bringing from Japan, with all of the money raised through that activity donated to the fund.
The event remains a festival, to be sure, with entertainment and enrichment at its heart. But there’s no overlooking the unusual dynamics that will hover over the proceedings this year. “We never did aggressive fundraising before,” Kobayashi explained, “but how could we not seize the opportunity to assist Japan when the needs are so great?”
Silk painting, circa 1910-1920; courtesy Palace of the Governors Photo Archives (NMHM/DCA), Negative No. 087818