What is it about taiko? is it the drums themselves? maybe the rhythms? or the power? the movement? the community created in a room of strangers trying to achieve something in unison? the freedom to shout when anywhere else we need to be polite? the endorphins that come with continuous physical activity? why not come and see for yourself?
One of the nice things we learnt on our taiko journey is that reaching out to other taiko players will most probably lead to wonderful things happening. And so when we heard that Kenny Endo and Chizuko Endo are coming to Europe for a couple of months we immediately sent an email asking them to come over to Swansea and teach us.
Kenny Endo spent about 10 years in Tokyo playing with Oedo Sukeruko Taiko and studying classical music of the Edo period (Edo bayashi, Kabuki). So we asked him to teach us Naname and Shime basics.
Taiko players from around the UK came to Swansea to take advantage of this opportunity. Members of Mugenkyo, Kagemusha, Taiko Journey, Taiko Meantime Tamashii Taiko and Oxford Taiko arrived and brought with them drums, stands and such beautiful spirit.
We spent all day learning from the vast knowledge and experience of Kenny Endo and Chizuko. They were both so generous with their knowledge. We played drills and learnt a practice piece called ‘Oi Uchi’ on Naname. And on the shime we learnt a few Edo bayashi rhythms and could enjoy several demonstrations from Kenny and Chizuko.
The evening before – we had a demonstration and talk by Kenny and Chizuko. They played pieces written by Kenny Endo, and some from his time in Tokyo, written by Oedo Sukeruko. Kenny told us about Noh theatre and Kabuki theatre and demonstrated the use of the Kotsuzumi and voice. From his time in the Kabuki theatre in Tokyo he also demonstrated the quiet sounds that an odaiko can make that are used in Kabuki to bring to life the different natural phenomena – and unnatural phenomena too – Ghosts and spirits. It was a very inspiring evening for all of us.
We always feel quite honoured when we are invited to play at Japanese cultural events. Japanese people who live in the UK and hear us play will sometimes come up to us to tell us how much they miss the sound of the drums.
The National Botanical Gardens of Wales and the Japanese Garden Society teamed up and with help from a professional gardener from Kyoto brought new life to the slightly neglected garden. It looked fantastic at the launch. We were invited to play at the opening of the ceremony and then gave a longer performance in the big glass house. We topped it off with pop up workshops for some of the school children that came to take part in the ceremony.
We are offering an open taiko workshop suitable for every member of the family, age 8 and above. We will learn a piece that lends itself to playing powerfully while supporting and encouraging each other in the group to give it their all. Taiko is not just about playing a rhythm – it’s about the energy, the intention, the collaboration and above all, the joy.
Date: Saturday 21st October
We would like to invite you to two Taiko-related events happening at the end of August. We are so lucky to host a Taiko legend who has many years experience of teaching and performing in both the United States of America and Japan.