In comfortable, convenient, modern Japan, there are some who are willing to drop everything for a communal life on a remote island where they will begin each day before 5 a.m. with a hard run, followed by hours of housework and drum practice.
The island, Sado Island, is best known for the kidnappings of Japanese citizens by North Korea. But for Yuichiro Funabashi, artistic director of this year’s mid-August Earth Celebration — the Kodo drummers’ annual festival — it’s all about “being face to face with the drum.”
Read the rest of the story: Earth Celebration: Taiko drums and communal life on a remote Japanese island.
Warakudaiko held a performance entitled Daiko at the Edo-Tokyo Museum on November 30th, 2008. The taiko performance, which also included a Shamisen guitar piece and a brief introduction to traditional Japanese musical instruments, was a colorful and uplifting event. It was held in two exhaustive sessions comprising more than 20 pieces in total. There was even a Kotobuki Jishi dance. The Kotobuki Jishi Lion Dance is said to bring luck to any celebration and is especially lucky for those that get touched on the head by the dancing lion.
On stage there was more than music happening. Taiko is a true performance art to the Warakudaiko. The musicians are performers. They dance with their drums, switch instruments in mid-stride, pass sticks to one another as if juggling, and call out the rhythms with announcements of joy that keeps the beat moving to a vigorous pace.
The stage was alive with each song and the atmosphere was one of pure happiness as you could see the smiles of the performers as they enjoyed the beat. Mr. Miyauchi gave the stage to his students for the entire performance until the end, when they performed two encore events with him in the lead.
They ended the show with an invitation for prospective students, “If you would like to perform taiko you can join us.” The school’s website can be found at wakon.biz.
Warakudaiko was established in 1989 in Ryogoku, Tokyo by Yukihiro Miyauchi for his taiko students. Warakudaiko currently has over 40 members of differing ages and various nationalities. They perform many events including the annual Kodo Earth Celebration on Sado Island.
Mr. Miyauchi was born in Ryogoku and graduated from Tohogakuen University in 1972 with a degree in drama. After starting a career as an actor, he became a professional taiko performer in 1973. In 1986, he established his own group, Wakon. He has performed internationally both live and on television. Has been featured in commercials and dramas. He is also active as a composer, choreographer, and instructor of taiko. He also holds Japanese music instrument workshops. More information can be found at wakon.biz.