Taiko Articles

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Learning Taiko in Japan

This article series is dedicated to learning taiko performance (and the various musical arts in which the drums are used) in Japan. Our contributors all have extensive experience learning Japan, each representing different paths which one can take while making the journey. 

Chris Holland

Introduction May 14, 2014

I sit here in my Yokohama apartment on a sunny April day looking out onto a cityscape that is at the moment bursting with the pink and white of sakura that just happen to be at full-bloom today...click the link above keep reading

Taiko in My First Year June 26, 2014

What is your image of taiko in Japan? I am not going to write an academic paper today filled with dates, names, credits, etc. I am going to write an account of how the greater world of taiko was introduced to me in my first year or so of taiko in Japan, and how it shaped my greater view of taiko in this country...click the link above keep reading

Joe Mignano

Introduction June 12, 2014

I think many taiko players around the world must dream from time to time about what it might be like. Taking the big leap. Dropping everything, quitting your job, getting on a plane to Tokyo, hunting down a legendary taiko guru deep in a bamboo forest on a remote mountain, and wholeheartedly devoting yourself to mastering taiko; living, training, reshaping yourself in Japan....click the link above keep reading

Joe Small

Introduction May 29, 2014

Hello, I’m Joe Small. I’m was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, and play taiko drums. To write about my own taiko experience is a little embarrassing as I do not tend to write about myself, nor do I find myself a particularly adept writer. Moreover, there are countless people in the community far more thoughtful and skilled than I am in taiko – that’s not a diffuse compliment meant to make me look humble, but what my experiences have repeatedly indicated to me....click the link above keep reading

Intensives and Workshops 

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Taiko Music

The Taiko Music history section is dedicated to the vast realm of contemporary taiko compositions. Within each article, we highlight a particular composition, talking about elements like its background, the influences that were brought into the piece, compositional and performance practices of note that are used during performances, and the legacy of piece. Through this series, we seek to provide insight into the way that contemporary taiko music has developed over time.

Gendai ni Ikiru September 1, 2018 

The introduction of contemporary taiko performance to the United States in the late 1960s occurred during the development of “a nascent Asian American political consciousness and an emphasis on ethnic solidarity”(Yoon 2001, 422). Socially- and politically-conscious Asian-American youth and young adults were searching for a means to express a sense of ethnic identity... (click the link above to keep reading)

Ashura April 30, 2018

In 1969, Reverend Masao Kodani of the Senshin Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles founded a group at the temple called ‘Kinnara,’ the name of a celestial musician in Buddhist mythology. He founded the group “with the intention of involving temple members in activities such as chanting which, at the time, was uncommon for Japanese Americans... (click the link above to keep reading)

Sokobayashi October 1, 2017

When Tanaka Seiichi – a Japanese immigrant who had come to Northern California in 1967– attended the 1968 Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco, he expected an environment like the raucous festivals of his youth in Nagano prefecture. However, the festivities consisted of little more than a parade... (click the link above to keep reading)

A New Direction: Kodo and The Path to “Irodori” May 8, 2017

When members of Ondekoza came to the United States in 1975 to run the Boston Marathon and perform a series of concerts, the tour started a long relationship between members of the Sado-based group and the North American taiko performance community. As the United States and Canada became a primary tour destination for the group ... (click the link above to keep reading)

Taiko in a Recorded Medium: Ondekoza and Kodo December 24, 2016

For the first two decades of the history of contemporary taiko performance, the artistry of groups like Osuwa Daiko and Sukeroku Taiko could only be experienced live, with a few exceptions. Osuwa Daiko was featured on television a few times in the late 1950s ... (click the link above to keep reading)

O-Daiko March 15, 2016

For the original members of Ondekoza, the first years on Sado will filled with learning activities of all kind. Not only were they making their own furniture and bachi and, when possible, growing their own food, they were also creating a concert program to be toured around the world. In order to create their program (click the link above to keep reading)

Monochrome December 7, 2015

In the early part of the 1970s, Ondekoza members trained both their bodies and their minds as they prepared to take their unique form of taiko performance around the world. Even as they were learning folk arts like Chichibu Yatai-bayashi, they were also engaging in... (click the link above to keep reading)

Symmetrical Soundscapes October 28, 2015

Sukeroku Taiko made major contributions to the world of contemporary taiko performance in the 1960s and 1970s, bringing together festival and theatrical music in compositions written to be played in a wide variety of spaces, from cabarets to store openings. However, in the same manner of its predecessor, Shin On Daiko... (click the link above to keep reading)

Nidan Uchi/Yodan Uchi September 3, 2015

In the short period of time after Shin On Daiko was founded in 1966 – and soon reformed as Sukeroku Taiko – group members developed a core repertoire that they performed at clubs, cabarets, and other locations around Tokyo. According to Kenny Endo, the first piece performed by the group was composed by... (click the link above to keep reading)

Oroshi Daiko/Shiraume Daiko/Matsuri Daiko July 24, 2015

When Shin On Taiko debuted in 1967 at the Tokyo club Crown, they presented to audiences a unique style of taiko performance. In pieces like “Midare Uchi,” members showcased the bon daiko skills they had honed in competitions across Tokyo. The soloistic, theatrical flairs they had developed were... (click the link above to keep reading)

Midare Uchi May 28, 2015

There are many different performance contexts in which taiko are used, and many different ways in which the family of drums are hit. Within this range, however, there are a select few that have become tied to the development and spread of  ... (click the link above to keep reading)

Hiryū San-dan Gaeshi May 4, 2015

Of all the pieces Oguchi Daihachi wrote for Osuwa Daiko, one stood out in his mind: “Hiryū San-dan Gaeshi” (飛龍三段返し “The Dragon God Descends Three Times). Composed for a performance by Osuwa Daiko at the 1970 Osaka World’s Fair, it was once stated by Oguchi to be the composition with which... (click the link above to keep reading)

Suwa Ikazuchi April 16, 2015

The history of contemporary taiko music – indeed, of all contemporary taiko performance – began with an accidental discovery in the early 1950s in the town of Okaya, Nagano Prefecture. Oguchi Kiyohito, the owner of a local miso business, found in one of his miso warehouses a journal written... (click the link above to keep reading)

About the multimedia assets

The images and videos found within the Taiko Music article series are used in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of United States Copyright Law, sections 107 through 118, title 17, U.S. Code, described on the website of the US Copyright Office. If you, as a copyright holder of any the materials featured in these articles, wish to have your items removed from these articles, please contact info@taikocommunityalliance.org