Sakura, Ume, Momo, and Sumomo
Tsuruga Wakasanojo, President of the Shinnai Association
Spring, with its gentle breezes, has arrived. Nature has changed its attire from cold winter to pleasant spring. One by one, the flowering trees are beginning to bloom, starting with ume (Japanese apricot), then momo (peach), sumomo (Japanese plum), and finally sakura (cherry).
In Japanese, the expression oh-bai-toh-ri, which consists of the kanji characters for sakura, ume, momo, and sumomo, uses the names of these four beautiful spring flowers to convey the meaning that each person can achieve the most by expressing his or her own individual character. It does not imply a comparison among the flowers or, figuratively, between others and ourselves, but rather refers to finding one’s own strengths and virtues and expanding one’s own specific identity. This is true in life and also in the arts.
The arts are not a matter of competition with others. We compete against our own past performances, not against other performers. In the arts, human nature appears clearly. We should strive to improve our accomplishments in the arts, make an effort to practice strenuously every day, and acquire artistic skills through such difficulties, without marring them with pride.
There is no final goal in the arts. All performers, new and seasoned, who aim to achieve in the arts, should continue to move forward while struggling toward a goal that is infinitely far away. Young people, especially, have a limitless inner potential to bloom into big, beautiful flowers.
I am grateful that we could hold today’s concert, giving the next generation of shinnai professionals the opportunity to perform, thanks to the cooperation of the Agency for Cultural Affairs.