Taiko Census

What is Taiko Census?

The Taiko Census is a periodic snapshot of individual data on taiko players worldwide. TCA sponsors the census to deepen our understanding of our community, document the spread of the art form, guide our programming, and support our search for additional resources to benefit the taiko community.

The 2024 Taiko Census will build upon the snapshots taken in 2013, 2016 and 2020. We are collecting information on individual taiko practices and piecing together a picture of how many people and groups make up our broad taiko community.

Intended deliverables from this year’s Taiko Census also include the beginnings of an international directory of taiko groups, as well as a report of the findings that will be publicly shared and available for anyone to use, including in your own hunt for grant funding, if applicable. Reports from the 2016 and 2020 Taiko Census are available below for your reference.

Help us help the taiko community and share this page with your taiko network so everyone can #getcounted and be a part of our 2024 taiko community snapshot!

Take the 2024 Census and be counted here: https://form.jotform.com/241147411627956

Taiko Census Reports

2024 Report (coming in 2024)

2020 Report

2016 Report

Taiko Census News

The Taiko Network – How Our Community Is Connected

February 25, 2021

For years, taiko scholars have asked the age-old question: where did we come from? The answer to this question goes far beyond what we’re prepared to dive into in this post, but suffice it to say, we all came from somewhere.

In taiko, TCA’s Taiko Census team took this question and for years has been using it to frame how we talk about the evolution of our taiko community. Through ongoing initiatives like the Taiko Census, we continue to collect information and fill in the pieces of this ever-expanding puzzle.

This year, however, Taiko Census team member Josh Yoon ran with this question under a different lens: how does where we came from determine how we are all connected?

If you play taiko, think about the people you have played with. If you have played with multiple groups, the members of each of those groups are now connected – through you. If you are new to taiko and a member of your first ever group, you may feel like you are only a small part of a larger picture. But, each person in your group who has played with another group, and each person who has left your group and joined another group connects you to those other groups. Suddenly, even as a brand new taiko player, you are connected to hundreds of other players, maybe across the globe.

While the Taiko Census team continues to work on TCA’s 2020 Taiko Census Report to publicly share a wealth of information about what our taiko community snapshot has taught us this year, Josh took just one facet of the 2020 Taiko Census and generated TCA’s first Taiko Group Social Network – a map of the 496 taiko groups and how they are connected by 992 individuals who completed the 2020 Taiko Census.

Take a look at the Taiko Social Network Poster and see what you can discover. 

How to read Taiko Social Network PosterGenerated based on the results we received during the 2020 Taiko Census, each circle represents one group, ensemble, or solo artist. The connecting lines between the circles reflect overlaps in membership. For example, a line drawn between Stanford Taiko and Jun Daiko indicates that at least one person was at some time a member of both groups, connecting them now indefinitely.

Where are you on this map, and who are you connected to? Any surprises? We hope this can be a jumping-off point for some great conversations among groups about their connected histories, but also, we hope that seeing a diagram like this further empowers and reminds us all that despite the unusual and unfortunate situations we have been faced with over the past year and even in years to come, taiko connects and brings us all together no matter how far apart we are.

Thank you all – and to the community as a whole – for your contributions to TCA’s 2020 Taiko Census. We could not continue to learn, grow, and stay connected without your support.  Much thanks and appreciation goes to Josh Yoon for both creating and printing this amazing piece!

50th Anniversary Projects: Taiko Then, Taiko Now, Taiko And

 May 2, 2018

In 1968 Tanaka-sensei became the first taiko practitioner to start a kumidaiko group outside of Japan. 50 years later the taiko community has grown to include hundreds of taiko groups in locations that encircle the globe. In 2018 TCA kicked off a cluster of projects to celebrate 50 years of taiko in North America. Intended not only to celebrate the 50-year milestone, but also to reach into the future, these projects will continue to evolve into TCA programs designed to Empower the people and advance the art of taiko.

Taiko Then

Time Capsule

A 21st century time capsule of taiko is being created to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of taiko in North America and preserve meaningful digital materials from across the taiko community. Project Lead: Tamiko Ooka 

Taiko Then Digital Repository

Starting with materials collected and generated by the North American Taiko Conference and TCA, volunteers have been sorting through NATC and TCA archives to identify significant physical materials that warrant digitization. As the print and video materials are digitized, they will be shared publicly. As new material becomes available, the project team will roll them out on the TCA website and TCA YouTube channel. Project Lead: Ben Pachter 

Taiko Now

50th Anniversary Song Commission

The 2016 Taiko Census revealed enormous demand in the taiko community for open source pieces and resources to learn them. Through a generous donation from the Walter and Elise Haas Creative Work Fund, Franco Imperial coordinated a collaboration between San Francisco Taiko Dojo, Kinnara Taiko, and San Jose Taiko to create "Made in America: Taiko Voices", an open source piece that honors the legacy, generosity, and hard work of our taiko pioneers.  The piece debuted in the Fall of 2019 and efforts are underway to share "Taiko Voices" further afield. Project Lead: Rome Hamner (rome@taikocommunityalliance.org)

Local Communities

50 years ago, the taiko community in North America started with 1 taiko group. At present, the North American continent boasts over 500 active taiko groups, spread across 42 states and 6 provinces. Since 1997, the North American Taiko Conference (NATC) has provided a biannual meeting place for our diverse community. To accommodate the community’s center of mass, NATC has only been held on the U.S. West Coast.  Local Communities is intended as a series of gatherings in areas across the continent to foster sharing and community-building beyond NATC and the U.S. West Coast. Project Lead: Derek Oye

Taiko And...

2020 Taiko Group Census

As the taiko community passes its 50-year milestone, taiko in North America has grown beyond a performance art shared in theaters and at festivals, to an art form engaged and involved throughout local communities. Taiko groups and individuals harness the power of taiko to create connections and foster positive change. Through school shows, groups impact taiko and education; at women’s and LGBTQ events, groups raise issues of taiko and identity; in senior centers, practitioners explore the intersection of taiko and aging; at Day of Remembrance events and Internment Camp reunions, taiko players support taiko and social justice. The 2020 Taiko Group Census gathered basic information about taiko groups but also solicited supplementary information to understand how taiko is moving beyond the studio and theater in new, creative, and meaningful ways.  Data from the Cesnus informs how to best support the taiko community across the variety of those endeavors.  Project Lead: Linda Uyechi

TCA Helps Collegiate Taiko

 Submitted by:  Jane Lin, TCA Board Secretary, Stanford Taiko 2008-2013May 27, 2016

Every year, one collegiate taiko group welcomes the collegiate taiko community to their college campus to learn from the masters of the art form and share what each group has accomplished. This is the Intercollegiate Taiko Invitational, started in 1995 focusing on west coast collegiate groups. Yet, with no institutional memory, each time a school hosts the event, some part of the wheel needed to be reinvented, causing a heavy burden on the hosting school.

Over the past two years, Taiko Community Alliance (TCA) has been looking to become the institutional memory for these collegiate groups. At first, recent alumni of various collegiate groups came together to create an online knowledge base of resources for new hosts. New hosts were provided with templates for reaching out to workshop leaders, a master timeline to keep students on track of what needed to be done early, and a run down of how to manage their budget.

While this database was a go-to place for help, it was really the interaction between the TCA advisory team and the host schools that allowed unique challenges to be solved. The TCA Collegiate Taiko Advisory Group (CTAG) met with Jodaiko of UC Irvine in 2014-2015 and Bakuhatsu Taiko Dan of UC Davis in 2015-2016 once a month to give suggestions on the planning process. This was also a chance for TCA to find out how college students view taiko as an art form and network as well aw how TCA could best support the collegiate community moving forward.

In a similar manner, this committee is advising Brown/RISD Gendo Taiko who will be hosting the 2017 East Coast Taiko Conference. The ITI Committee has explored the opportunities for collegiate groups to approach their respective music departments to be considered an official music group. This would open up many opportunities, including access to more funding, storage and practice space, for the collegiate taiko groups.

View the TCA’s 2013 Taiko Census by Age Image

Collegiate taiko is an essential part of the taiko community, and often serves as a key point of introduction for many taiko players. They fall in love with the art form and many students continue to play taiko after college. In TCA’s 2013 Taiko Census, the respondent age demographic with the highest response rate was ages 18-25.

5 Things You Need To Know About Taiko In Europe

 May 20, 2016

In February 2016, the very first European Taiko Conference took place in Devon, England. Conceived and instigated by Jonathan Kirby, founder of Kagemusha Taiko, the four day event saw players from ten European countries, Japan, and the United States come together to celebrate the art form in Europe.

There was also an appetite to better understand taiko players in Europe – who are we? How do we learn taiko? How long have we been playing taiko and why do we play it? As part of my doctoral research, I asked these questions by surveying participants. You might be surprised by the findings …

1. Taiko can be found across Europe in both rural and urban settings

Players from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the four countries of the United Kingdom attended the European Taiko Conference. They came from major metropolitan cities such as Budapest, Paris and Hamburg, yet also from smaller towns and villages such as Lecco in Italy, Crickhowel in Wales, Voiron in France, and Totnes in England. Some had links to other groups in the Republic of Ireland, Serbia, Austria, Greece, and The Netherlands, suggesting taiko has no geographical boundaries.

2. Most players in Europe play taiko because of its use of the body and health benefits, and not due to a connection to or interest in Japan.

No survey participants discussed Asian ethnicity or heritage as a motivating factor for playing taiko. Instead, European taiko players are motivated to play by the interconnectedness of the mind and body through playing taiko as well as its use as a form of physical exercise. One participant summarised this by stating “It is holistic. Mind, Body and Spirit are engaged. Music and Movement make me happy.”

3. Japanese groups tour across Europe, inspiring new players along the way.

Most of the survey participants were first exposed to taiko through a performance by a touring Japanese group in their local area, suggesting Japanese groups reach all corners of Europe while on tour. A much smaller number saw performances by locally-established groups. Both proved to be sources of inspiration for players.

4. European taiko players train internationally.

60% of survey participants had undertaken a workshop in their country of residence with an international teacher (overwhelmingly Japanese), and a third had undertaken training in Japan within the past three years.

5. Taiko groups in Europe collaborate and are set to do so even more.

43% of players had participated in activities organised and delivered by other groups in their countries of residence (such as workshops and festivals including the UK Taiko Festival), suggesting relationships among groups and their members. Since the European Taiko Conference, relations have both grown and intensified with participants collaborating on performances, delivering workshops for players in other countries and designing new curricula for groups.

Taiko is a vibrant art form in Europe that reaches across the continent. Players from a range of European countries have already completed the TCA census, ensuring  their distinctive voices are included in telling the story of global taiko in 2016.

Taiko Census: Six Degrees of Tanaka Sensei

Submitted by: Linda UyechiMay 6, 2016

When you share your Taiko Profile on the TCA Taiko Census you support the Taiko Mapping Project (TMP). TMP is the TCA-sponsored project to capture the spread of taiko — player by player — by asking two simple questions:

Taiko is a special art form, not only because it’s unmistakably loud and vibrant, but also because it’s created by groups of people working together who depend largely on oral tradition to share the art form. Through kuchishoka, we have created a special arts-based social network!

So the responses to those two basic questions provide enough information to draw a picture of taiko relations. Simply put, in our taiko map a circle represents a person and an edge represents their taiko relationship — the tie formed between two people when they play in the same group at the same time.

For example, Russell Baba and Jeanne Mercer learned from and played taiko with Tanaka-sensei at San Francisco Taiko Dojo. They, in turn, formed Shasta Taiko, and taught and played with Shoji Kameda, who formed On Ensemble, where Michelle Fujii, now with Unit Souzou, was one of the original members. So Toru Watanabe, the co-founder of Unit Souzou, can trace a taiko connection to Tanaka-sensei. Graphically put, those relations look like this:

Tanaka-Sensei Image

With more data the web of relations gets more complex and compelling. Indeed, Toru may find himself with fewer degrees of separation to Tanaka-sensei.

With the relatively recent emergence of ensemble taiko and the relationships we have formed, it is theoretically possible to create a taiko map of all taiko players. A comprehensive taiko map will allow each player to trace their taiko lineage but — even more significantly — the taiko map can document the spread of taiko. We believe that no other art form can lay claim to the ability to so clearly document the spread of their art. The taiko map, then, can underscore for researchers and funders alike what we already know: taiko is special.

Not only has our shared passion for taiko ensured its rapid growth, we’ve also created a special network of practitioners where Tanaka-sensei can boast an influence akin to Kevin Bacon. With your support Six Degrees of Tanaka-sensei can do for the taiko community what Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon did for the movie industry.

Taiko Network Graph Image

Our goal, then, is to document our art form one player at a time. Your responses to the 2013 Taiko Census provided sufficient data for a proof of concept of taiko mapping but, unfortunately, allowed us to share only aggregated data. In this year’s Taiko Census we ask that participants allow us to share the information in their taiko profile.

That shared information will serve as the heart of the taiko map. Membership lists and rosters from taiko groups will augment the map. And as the taiko community continues to grow, we hope to leverage our tech resources so that new players can be mapped in real-time.

Such are our ambitions for the future. For the present, we ask each taiko player to reach out so that all members of their local taiko network Get Counted! We have a fascinating story to tell, and want everyone to be included.