Artists have their fair share of doors closing on them. But it’s how you open new doors that helps define your strength as an artist. Michelle Fujii was artistic director of Portland Taiko for nine years. Toru Watanabe, her husband, had an artistic staff position for six years. Suddenly this summer, the PT board decided to restructure the organization, and they eliminated Fujii’s position. Watanabe made the decision to quit soon after.  Fujii and Watanabe asked themselves some difficult questions. Did they still want to pursue their love of taiko music and folkdance in Portland? In a matter of a few weeks of deep soul searching, they established partnerships with artists and arts groups and decided to form their own taiko group called Unit Souzou.   They talk about their debut concert as they introduce this new group joined by well-known Portland artists and a sponsorship and loan of 12 newly borrowed drums (one 4.5 ft. in diameter) from Asano Taiko US.

Michelle Fujii and Toru Watanabe
Michelle Fujii and Toru Watanabe

Aired  Tues 8/26 on KBOO 90.7FM. Hear an inspirational story of taking life’s lemons and turning it to a new taiko group a complete with a school of taiko and dance and an already busy performance touring schedule. ​ More info on their event: SAISEI : NEW BEGINNINGS
Thu, Sept 4, 7:30 pm
Zoomtopia Studio 2
810 SE Belmont Street, Portland, OR
Admission – Free
DONATIONS ACCEPTED proceeds to UNIT SOUZOU With guest artist collaborations – Mitsuki Dazai (koto), Mike Barber (dance), 
Subashini Ganesan (South Indian Dance), and many more!

For more info: UNIT SOUZOUschool ‘Souzou’ can be written in three ways meaning ‘creation’ (創造) ‘imagination’ (想像) or ‘noisy’ (騒々) alluding to a force by which new ideas are born and take shape in the world.  Inspired by these words UNIT SOUZOU focuses on building creative and imaginative works for the art form of taiko and dance. You can hear Stage & Studio on: