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Taiko

History of Taiko

With the power of an elemental force of nature, men and women play with the passion of complete abandon, fully committing their bodies and spirits to the beautiful, precise choreography and powerful, surging rhythms expressed by taiko. Using a background of thunderous drums, graceful movement and colorful pageantry, Burlington Taiko provides a unique opportunity for entertainment and education.

Taiko—Japanese for "big drum"- is a relatively modern revival of ancient Japanese drumming traditions. The drums originally developed in India, where they were used in religious ceremony to represent the voice of the Buddha. Moving across China and Korea with the spread of Buddhism, taiko arrived in Japan around 500 AD.

Taiko quickly became part of Japanese culture; spiritual healers played taiko to dispel evil spirits and drive insects from the rice fields; Samurai employed taiko to instill fear in the enemy and courage in themselves; villagers used taiko to in their prayers for rain and in thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. Over time, many areas developed unique choreography and rhythms celebrating festivals or recreations of historic events.

In modern times, taiko has emerged as a performing art. Groups such as Osuwa Daiko led by Grandmaster Daihachi Oguchi and Sukeroku Taiko of Tokyo pioneered the way in the 70's and 80's collecting local festival rhythms and transforming them into stage performance pieces.

In the early 60's groups such as Ondekoza and Kodo began astonishing world audiences, showcasing an almost superhuman style of taiko fostered by living a disciplined communal life dedicated exclusively to taiko. Taiko was introduced to North America over forty years ago by Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka, a student of Oguchi Sensei and founder of the San Francisco Taiko Dojo. His seminal leadership and passionate style of play are largely responsible for the popularity of taiko in North America today.