Nancy Ozaki and Gary Tsujimoto from One World Taiko in Seattle are returning to Centrum in 2013 to teach taiko to middle school students from throughout Washington during our Explorations workshop, March 3-8.
In the early times, the taiko was an integral part of daily Japanese life. It was used in religious ceremonies, imperial court music, and the Kabuki Theatre. Ancient warriors played the taiko to instill fear in their enemies and courage in their troops. Farmers used taiko to dispel insects from their crops, induce rain and to celebrate a good harvest. In some villages, the taiko was used to determine the boundaries of the village; it was “As far as the taiko can be heard.” Festivals, then as now, include the taiko to accompany dancers and to entertain festival crowds.
Today, the taiko is still part of Japanese life and has become a performing art in its own right. There are taiko performance groups throughout the United States and the world. The first taiko group in the U.S. was the San Francisco Taiko, started by Seiichi Tanaka from Nagano, Japan. Following the San Francisco Taiko came Kinnara Taiko of the Los Angeles Buddhist Temple and San Jose Taiko. Other early U.S. taiko groups were started at the Buddhist temples such as Denver Taiko and New York’s Soh Daiko where continuing generations of Japanese Americans embraced the taiko as a means of cultural pride, discovery and self-expression.
Gary founded One World Taiko over twenty years ago in San Francisco. Prior to that, he was a founding member and former artistic director and lead drummer for San Jose Taiko. Gary also performed with the professional Japanese group, Ondekoza, as a guest artist during their USA tour in 1986. Nancy began her taiko career as a member of Denver Taiko and performed as a member with Ondekoza during their tours of Japan, Europe and the USA in 1987. Nancy and Gary studied taiko both in the United States and Japan. They have performed all over the world and across the United States from McCaw Hall in Seattle to Disney’s Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida and the Global village in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Japan. Their music is drawn from Japan’s ancient tradition of lively festival drumming and noted for their own creative rhythms, arrangements and choreography, adding a modern spirit to the ancient tradition of taiko.