N. Group Profiles

Aiko (Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA)

Aiko, otherwise known as Wellesley Taiko, is a taiko organization based at Wellesley College. Aiko literally means “blue drum,” in association with Wellesley College’s school color. Founded in fall 2007 by Kimiko Lange, Marie Ayabe, and Maryssa Miller as a branch of Japan Club, Aiko is now a fully independent performance student organization. We perform annually at Slater Cultural Show, Yuki Matsuri, and often collaborate with other ethnic groups on campus. Our off-campus performances have taken place at venues from Legacy Place in Dedham, MA to NBC Studios at 30 Rock in New York City. For more information, check out our website: http://www.wix.com/wellesleyaiko/aiko#!.

Arashi Daiko (Montreal, QC)

There were many involved in establishing Arashi Daiko (“storm drums”) in 1983; among them were Terry and May Yasunaka who gave their final performance at the group’s 20th Anniversary Concert in March 2003. Twenty years earlier, they had invited Vancouver’s Naomi Shikaze to give a series of Japanese drumming workshops at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal (www.jcccm.ca).  A small group of interested community members showed up to learn about this exciting form of expression and hence, Arashi Daiko was born.

From humble beginnings practicing on old rubber tires to the group’s present-day collection of over 30 drums, Montreal’s taiko group has changed and evolved over the years, bearing witness to a true “melange” of backgrounds in its members, while maintaining the original mission of its founders’ vision: to be a community-based group sharing this exciting aspect of Japanese culture with the public at large.

Throughout the years, members from all walks of life have joined and left the group. Although it is the magical and transformative power of the taiko that draws people into the group, it is the members’ warmth and generosity of spirit of its members that nourishes this passion for the drums. All who have encountered Arashi Daiko have been touched by the family atmosphere its founders and members continue to cultivate.


Bowdoin Taiko (Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME)

Bowdoin Taiko operates in an interesting environment, close enough to other taiko groups to be influenced by them, but far enough away to develop mostly on its own.  Dan, the group’s first director and sensei, learned taiko in the Stockton Bukkyou taiko group of Stockton, California, under the tutelage of Earle Fox (himself a member of the Sacramento Taiko Dan), and so Bowdoin Taiko’s basic style is rooted in the San Joaquin valley.  The hand movements are powerful, relatively simple, and involve the whole body, with the center of balance shifting as we play.  The whole thrust of the choreography also tends toward the goofy.Transplanted into New England, this style has also been influenced by the groups around us, including Burlington Taiko and Odaiko New England.

With each new leader following Dan, there have been additional twists in chereography and songs, notably:

Doran Rivera, who brought a more martial arts approach and a modern flare in rhythm to songs. Andrew Stetzler, who while in Japan studied with taiko groups during his entire stay.

MacConnell Evans, who brought ideas of effective use of every taiko in making more modern songs.

Alex Pfister, who has a taiko background rooted in Gymnastics, Modern Dance and Steel Drum.

Bowdoin Taiko is currently led by Alex Casbara, who uses his years of training as a concert percussionist to compose multi-voiced, polyrhythmic pieces.

Please visit our website at: http://students.bowdoin.edu/taiko/
Videos of Bowdoin Taiko can be found on youtube.

Burlington Taiko (Burlingon, VT)
Since 1987, Burlington Taiko has been mesmerizing audiences with the powerful, spellbinding and propulsive sounds of the taiko.Burlington Taiko Group estimates it has introduced over half a million people to the power of taiko via public performances including feature performances at the 100th running of the Boston Marathon, annual performances at Burlington’s First Night, the Joseph Campbell – Keepers of the Lore festival, the Black Ships Festival in Newport, Rhode Island, and over 200 corporate, collegiate and public performances.In 2001, Burlington Taiko received First Night International’s Prism Award, first place recognition for Most Creative Programming.In 2002 Burlington Taiko participated in its first tour of Japan, performing a series of concerts in the prefecture of Tottori at the Gaina Matsuri in Yonago.

The group has been honored 3 times by the International Taiko community having been selected as a feature performer at the 2008 40th International Taiko Festival in San Francisco, the 1999 North American Taiko Conference in Los Angeles, and the 1998 30th International Taiko Festival in San Francisco.

Burlington Taiko is the performance arm of our non-profit entity, Taiko AikoKai New England (TANE). Our mission: to promote the performance and practice of Taiko and provide education about Taiko and Japanese culture. Send your donation to help promote Japanese culture in our schools to: Taiko AikoKai New England (or TANE), P.O. Box 65115, Burlington, VT 05406

Gendo Taiko (Brown University, Providence RI)

One of the earliest collegiate Taiko drumming groups established on the East Coast, Gendo Taiko was constituted at Brown University in the Fall of 2004 by Raiki Machida (Class of 2007) and Joshua Goldner (Class of 2005). At the time only known as Brown Taiko, the musical styles at Gendo’s founding were largely based on those of Wadaiko Gensou, a semi-professional Taiko group based in Miyagi, Japan, from which Machida had learned Taiko. In the summer of 2006, Wadaiko Gensou’s founding members Takao Handa and Satoko Nambu were invited to Brown University to expand the group’s repertoire, hone its members’ techniques and build their musical instruments. As the group grew both in membership and musical potential over the years, it adopted a formal audition process, developed a Group Independent Study Project (GISP) to learn the history of Taiko, and is now in the course of developing a well-structured program of study for its members.Today, Gendo Taiko continues to build and acquire new drums, expand its repertoire through composing their own songs, and gain knowledge from the greater Taiko community through participating in conferences and invitationals. Handa and Nambu gave the team the name Gendo during their stay in 2006. Gendo, meaning “path to inspiration,” represents the journeys taken by members in years past, and what we hope to pass down in years to come.

Website: http://www.gendotaiko.com/

The Genki Spark (Brookline, MA)


Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center (New York, NY)

The Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center preserves, teaches, and promotes the art of Japanese taiko drumming, shares elements of Japanese music and culture with students, and creates community among taiko players, musicians, and others. Taiko, which means simply “drum” in Japanese.  Modern day taiko drumming is a dynamic, accessible, and powerful art form that has a large and growing following in the United States.

Since August of 2008, the Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center (KWTC) has been holding classes, workshops, student recitals and other events in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Modern day taiko drumming is both a physical and musical art form – a performer must have a dancer’s grace, an athlete’s stamina and a musician’s rhythm. Students at  KWTC explore multiple ways to develop their physical and spiritual understanding of the performance of taiko. KWTC also frequently holds community gatherings that present taiko players alongside musicians from other genres and cultural traditions.

KWTC is founded by Kaoru Watanabe, a former member and artistic director of the world-renowned taiko ensemble KODO. Born in the US to Japanese parents, Kaoru is a graduate from Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and the Manhattan School of Music and has performed and recorded with Stefon Harris and Jason Moran on Blue Note Records, among others. Kaoru was also a member of New York’s Soh Daiko, the East Coast’s oldest and most respected taiko group.


Kaze (Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT)

Taiko at Wesleyan started in 2006 as a student forum led by Sarah Elmaleh ’06, who enjoyed learning taiko during her stay in Japan and wanted to share this inspirational experience with the Wesleyan community.  After a year of several successful concerts, with the efforts of Professor Su Zheng, Taiko ensemble became a regularly offered class in 2007.  Mark H Rooney, driving four hours to Wesleyan every Friday,  served as an instructor until Fall of 2010.  His enthusiastic teaching developed a great sense of community among the students, and the advanced class students began practicing and performing actively outside class as well.  In 2008, Wesleyan Taiko was invited to play processional and recessional music at the university Commencements, in front of commencement speaker Barack Obama.  Finally in 2010, Kaze, the student group consisting of the passionate members from the advanced class, officially started and has been performing for several concerts both on and off campus, including a fundraiser concert with Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) for Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief.  Kaoru Watanabe (former Artistic Director of Kodo), serving as an instructor from Spring 2011, further expanded Wesleyan’s taiko education to beginning, intermediate, and advanced classes in addition to fue classes.  This year (2012), Kaze is privileged to host the 2nd Eastern Taiko Conference.

New website: http://kaze-wesleyan-taiko.tumblr.com/

Kaze No Daichi (Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH)

Originally formed in 2006 by Paul Yoon, of Soh Daiko, as Hayabusa Taiko; this ensemble has strived to continue the spirit of taiko, both by looking back to the genre’s roots, and expanding the tradition by composing and performing original works. Kazenodaichi Taiko grew out of this ensemble so that more advanced players could continue to learn new and more difficult material, while still leaving Hayabusa Taiko open as a class for all who wished to play. We perform at a wide array of venues and are always looking for new opportunities!

Facebook: Facebook.com/Kazenodaichi

Youtube: Kazenodaichi Taiko BG

Manhattan Taiko (New York, NY)


Mountain River Taiko – San Ga Daiko (Williamsburg, MA)

Mountain River Taiko, a.k.a. San Ga Daiko, was founded by director Olga Ehrlich to fill the void of taiko drumming in Western Massachusetts when she moved there in 2010. A native of the area, Olga returned after living in the Southwest for 20 years, where she was introduced to taiko in Moab, Utah. In 1997 she became a member of Moab Taiko Dan, a community taiko collective. She moved to the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area in 2002 and continued to play, perform and teach taiko with Esther Vandecar’s dojo groups Phoenix Taiko Kai, Aozora, Fushicho Daiko, and All Arizona Taiko Team. Olga’s inspiration for and love of taiko were nurtured by opportunities to study in the USA and Japan with teachers including Annette Kearl, Esther Vandecar, Tiffany Tamaribuchi, Munakata Sensei of Hiroshima Taiko Hozonkai, Takeru Matsushita of Yamato, Kurumaya Sensei of Fukui, Sensei’s Yoko and Yoshikazu Fujimoto, and others.

The mission of Mountain River Taiko is to share contemporary and ancient taiko tunes with community members who wish to learn about and play this genre of Japanese music. As we play from our hearts, the rhythms move us through life as the heart moves blood and sustenance through our bodies. Taiko enthusiasts of all ages are welcome to participate in our community events.

Please visit our blog: http://mountainrivertaiko.tumblr.com/

Oberlin College Taiko (Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH)

Oberlin College Taiko (OCTaiko) is a taiko group based in Oberlin, Ohio that strives to build a strong taiko community in Oberlin through regular practices, workshops, and performances. OCTaiko was founded in the Fall of 2008 by a small group of students, faculty, and alumni with the understanding that members will learn from one another, rather than from one individual teacher, based on principles of interdependence. OCT learns and draws inspiration from many prominent members in the taiko community like Seichi Tanaka, Kenny Endo, Kaoru Watanabe, TaikoProject and PJ Hirabayashi.

Since its founding, OCTaiko has grown into a 14 member group, practicing, teaching and performing on drums and stands built together in Oberlin and the greater Cleveland area. OCTaiko also offers a class for college credit every fall semester,“Introduction to Japanese Drumming,” which allows the group to share their love of taiko with the community, recruit new members and give existing members an opportunity to learn through teaching. OCT has performed at many events

including Oberlin’s Cultural Festival, the first annual Asia Night Market, Japanese Department Party, Oberlin’s Big Parade, the first annual East Coast Taiko Conference at Cornell, Oberlin Commencement Weekend, various athletic events including track meets and half-time shows, and our final performances every semester. We are honored to continue and be apart of the story of taiko in America and are very excited to participate in this year’s East Coast Taiko Conference at Wesleyan University.


Odaiko New England (Woburn, MA)

Odaiko New England (ONE) began drumming in 1994 and was one of the first East Coast taiko groups.Brought together by a common love for taiko, the members and supporters of Odaiko New England reflect the rich cultural diversity of New England. Through performances, workshops, lecture demonstrations, and ongoing taiko classes, and through creating opportunities for communities to drum together, ONE’s wish is to proudly share its heritage with as many people as possible in the hopes that it will enrich the lives of those who are touched by the sound of the taiko

ONE currently has 13 performing members, led by Juni Kobayashi as Artistic Director, who has been a performing member of Odaiko New England since 2001 and full-time staff since 2006.


Pittsburgh Taiko (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pittsburgh Taiko is dedicated to bringing Japanese group taiko drumming (kumidaiko) to the city of Pittsburgh. Open to anyone interested in learning about the art form, we seek to educate members of the community about taiko and about Japanese culture through performances and outreach activities.

Pittsburgh Taiko performs both regional Japanese drumming styles arranged for our group and original compositions. In this way, we not only look to pass on knowledge of what has come before, but also work to create new possibilities for taiko performance.


Rutsubo (Boston, MA)

Rutsubo means crucible or melting pot in Japanese, and our group represents a melding of different taiko traditions into one. While our futures and ambitions might take us on our own directions, we consider ourselves as a group that is constantly changing and growing.  Currently, we are based in downtown Boston, at Shaffee Bacchus-sensei’s Shoshinkan Shinkendo Dojo.


Skidaiko (Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY)

Skidaiko is Skidmore College’s first and only taiko group whose members are spirited, enthusiastic and dedicated to making taiko an exciting experience for the Skidmore community.
Our mission is to have as many people as possible be able to learn and practice taiko regardless of skill or previous drumming experience.  In order to do this we hold beginner practices separate from the performance troupe, a tradition unique to Skidaiko within Skidmore’s club community.
Skidaiko was founded in the Spring of 2008 and chartered as a club that same year.  With only 5 members in our first year Skidaiko has grown to a dedicated and expert group of about 12 people with even more attending our informal begginer’s practices.
While remaining traditional and grounded in the roots of taiko, Skidaiko aims to incooperate our own diverse experiences into our pieces and performances.


Taiko Aiko Kai (New York, NY)

New York Taiko Aiko Kai/Teachers College Taiko Society and New York Osuwa Taiko Association

New York Taiko Aiko Kai (紐育太鼓愛好会)is one of the Taiko groups in residence as part of the TC Taiko Society at Teachers College, Columbia University.It began in 2002 when a few families at an Upper West Side public school began practicing Taiko with a hope to pass Japanese culture to their children. The group has always been family oriented, but many adults have also joined the group over the years. Hiro Kurashima, Osuwa Daiko Shihan, who was certified by the late Grandmaster Daihachi Oguchi, was the founding teacher of the group, and continues to teach and perform with the group regularly.NYTAK has performed at various schools and institutions, including the Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Japan Day in Central Park, and public and private schools in New York metropolitan area.  For more information, go to: http://nytak.blogspot.com or please contact: NYTaiko@gmail.com.
Practice Time and Place:
Every Sunday
11:00 to 12:00 pm Basic Skills
12:00 to 1:00 pm  Children
1:00 to 2:30 pm Adults
2:30 to 3 p.m. Advanced Jam Session
3:00 to 4:00 pm Youth
Horace Mann Hall, Room 512
at Teachers College,
Columbia University
Director: Kyoko Toyama-Baruah
Assistant Director: Mark Diller


Taiko Tides (Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY)

Taiko Tides was founded in 2001 by Joan Miyazaki, a professor from the Biology deparment at Stony Brook University, Long Island New York.  This group is very unique for its diverse students and staff who are brought together to practice traditional Japanese drumming.  Taiko Tides has been performing for all different types of events such as the Sakura Matsuri at Stony Brook campus to the Multicultural Show in Sag Habor. Our group performs traditional pieces in addition to fairly “modern” pieces that are written by Americans with some jazz influence.  Our goal as a group is to expand our piece repertoire, improve our drumming style and spread “the excitement and beauty of Japanese drumming, Japanese culture, and its philosophy.”

For more information, please contact us at SBUTaikoTides@gmail.com

TCNJ Taiko (College of New Jersey, Ewing Township, NJ)


Tora Taiko (Princeton University, Princeton, NJ)


Triangle Taiko (Raleigh, NC)

Triangle Taiko, located in Raleigh, NC, was founded in 2002 under the Nippon
Club of the Triangle, NPO. Triangle Taiko is an all-volunteer group, and the
members come from many walks of life and are of various ages. The motto of
the group is “sharing the fun to play Taiko and to promote Japanese-American
cultural exchange through playing Taiko and participate in performance for the
community”. There are about 25 members currently.
In addition, Triangle Taiko works with the sister group “Triangle Special Taiko”,
whose members are from athletes of Special Olympics. They were invited to
perform in Japan in 2010.

Please see more detail in http://www.triangletaiko.org/taiko/

UConn Taiko (University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT)

Uconn taiko is based at the University of Connecticut and was found in 2004 by Richard Fu and Cien Kim. The goal of the group is to balance learning about Japanese culture with striving to perfect taiko rhythm and form. The club is open to any members of UConn community, who have an interest in the ar of Taiko.

As alumni and current members bring previous experience form different taiko groups, our influences predominantly come from taiko groups in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

UConn Taiko has performed in many events both on and off campus — from university cultural events such as Asian Night , a showcase of different Asian style performances, to the Dragon Boat festivals at Hartford and Candlewood Lake.

UConn Taiko is proud to share our music to everyone.


Yamatai (Cornell University, Ithaca, NY)

Yamatai is a musical ensemble of 16 members dedicated to spreading the art and joy of taiko drumming in Cornell and the Ithaca community. Yamatai was founded in 2006 by Cornell undergraduate Haruki Yukawa ʻ09 and began under the musical direction of Eva Kestner ’09.

Through rigorous study and training, Yamatai seeks to explore musical possibilities of taiko drumming in contemporary adaptations while respecting the origins of the traditional art. Our early music repertoire consisted mostly of pieces by Bonten, a professional group in Japan, but we have since incorporated traditional community taiko pieces as well as original compositions by Yamatai members and alumni.

Yamatai performs several times through the year at Cornell and in Ithaca, and traveled to Washington DC to perform at the National Cherry Blossom Festival in April 2010. Yamatai also hosted the first ever East Coast Taiko Conference (ECTC) in February 2011 to foster the spread of taiko and exchange of taiko knowledge on the East Coast. We are excited to be a part of the growing international taiko community, and to share our passion for taiko with our audience.



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