Always regarded as sacred, the taiko drum was first used to bring favor from the Kami, 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. In 1968 at the San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival a performance by Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka inspired Americans and Japanese to learn and perform taiko in a modern day ensemble setting. Today, a cultural renaissance has taken place in America and Japan, leading to a rediscovery of native arts and culture. Taiko drummers have popularized and revolutionized the art around the world. Taiko has been recognized by many accolades such as the 2001 US National endowment for the Arts: National Heritage Fellowship and in 2013 Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun 5th Order: Gold and Silver Rays by Emperor Akihito to Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka.
About Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka and San Francisco Taiko Dojo
San Francisco Taiko Dojo was founded in 1968 by Tokyo-born Seiichi Tanaka, who is widely considered the father of modern taiko in North America. In the school’s history, over 15,000 men, women, and children from all walks of life, have studied under Tanaka. These students have gone on to establish over 250 other taiko groups throughout the United States and Canada and further around the world. Tanaka Sensei and San Francisco Taiko Dojo have collaborated with a number of renowned artists, including Art Blakey, Tito Puente, Tony Bennett, Dave Brubeck; they have also been featured in the movie soundtracks for “Apocalypse Now”, “The Right Stuff”, “Return of the Jedi” and “Rising Sun”. San Francisco Taiko Dojo currently offers classes for students of all levels and ages in San Francisco’s Japan Town and in the South San Francisco Dojo.
To learn more about San Francisco Taiko Dojo, find them at:
Cherry Blossom Taiko Festival
Every year, SF Taiko produces the Cherry Blossom Taiko Festival featuring taiko groups from all over. The festival takes place the early evening of Saturday of the second weekend of the festival at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California. For tickets and more information, check out www.sftaiko.com.