Always regarded as sacred, the taiko drum was first used to ward away evil spirits and pests harmful to crops. It was believed that the rain spirit would be forced into action if one imitated the sound of thunder during times of drought. The taiko was joyfully beaten to express thanks for a bountiful crop during harvest. Today, a cultural renaissance has taken place in Japan, leading to a rediscovery of native arts. Taiko enthusiasts have popularized and revolutionized the art around the world.