What is Taiko?

The rhythms of the heavy wooden Taiko drum have figured prominently in traditional roles from ancient times in Japan. On one end of the spectrum, during times of war, the Taiko’s resonating pulse echoed through vast distances as both a call to battle and a tool of intimidation against the enemy. On the other end, Taiko was a component within the regional Japanese cycles of festival life rooted in the agricultural seasons. Within these festivals known as Matsuri, it’s role ranged from a pulse to sustain the tempo of celebration to an astounding range of elaborate and intricate forms of drumming and dance traditions. Taiko also was a significant element within the theatrical traditions of Kabuki and Noh.

During the last, approximately, forty years, Taiko has gone far beyond it’s traditional role and emerged as one of the most energizing and innovative of Japanese art forms. Due to the vision and work of figures such as Oguchi Daihachi Sensei, referred to as the granddaddy of modern day Taiko, and widely renowned groups such as Kodo and others, Taiko has come into it’s own as an evolving, creative art form exemplifying passionate musical expression, precision, power and grace. Although contemporary Taiko known as “Sosaku Daiko” or “Kumi Daiko” is rooted in and incorporates traditional elements of martial arts and dance, the expression and range of creativity is original and influenced by life today. Within the last two decades, hundreds of drumming groups within Japan and around the globe have formed as people are drawn by the intensity of the discipline and the unique camaraderie within a drumming group.