Japanese Taiko Drumming Ensemble

洗足学園音楽大学/SENZOKU GAKUEN college of Music

Taiko has grown in the United States since coming over from Japan in the late 1960s. The first American taiko group, San Francisco Taiko Dojo, was formed in 1968 by Seiichi Tanaka, a postwar immigrant who studied taiko in Japan and brought the styles and teachings to America. A year later, a few members of Senshin Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles were putting away a drum after an obon festival and decided to just have a jam session and after several hours of playing, they decided to form a group. Shortly after, Kinnara taiko was formed. In 1973, the third American taiko group, San Jose Taiko, was formed in the San Jose area.

Taiko ensembles are groups that are nearly completely drum instruments, with a couple of exceptions. Each of the drums plays a very specific role to the overall aspect of the ensemble. Of the many different styles and shapes of Taiko drums, the most common drum found in an ensemble would likely be the nagado-daiko. Drums are not the only instruments played in the ensemble. They also incorporate a wide variety of other Japanese instruments to their ensembles. Common string instruments found with many different Taiko groups would be the biwa, koto, and the shamisen. Of the woodwinds used, the bamboo flutes known as the shakuhachi and the shinobue are popular items.


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