By Elizabeth Holland

The musical beats of San Jose Taiko took KU Presents! and its audience through a “rhythm journey” on March 26. Audiences of all ages came to watch as the musicians illustrated harmony through music and movement, captivating everyone with their ability to move together as one.

Being inspired by traditional Japanese drumming, the eight musicians displayed pieces created by members of San Jose Taiko, dating back to when the group was founded. Their oldest piece, “Gendaini Ikiru,” which means “Living in the Present,” was created by Gary Tsujimoto in 1978. It uses modern and traditional rhythms, and combines them with the rhythm of jazz and the “taiko” beat.

San Jose Taiko plays traditional Japenese drums. Photo courtesy of University Relations
San Jose Taiko plays traditional Japenese drums.
Photo courtesy of University Relations

Roy Hirabayashi, the founder of San Jose Taiko, created “Spirit of Adventure” in 1993. According to him, the piece was inspired by the concept of the old and the new. By combining the elements of the traditional Japanese “taiko,” the East Indian percussions and contemporary music, audiences experience a wave of rhythm that creates the spirit of adventure.

“DoR,” meaning “Day of Remembrance,” is the most recent piece created by Franco Imperial. Day of Remembrance is an annual event that commemorates the signing of Executive Order 9066, which forced 120,000 Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II. The San Jose Mihonmachi Outreach Committee hosts the event in San Jose Japantown. San Jose Taiko celebrates them through this piece that commemorates one another through the midst of diversity and discrimination.

San Jose Taiko ended their performance with improvised solos created by Gary Tsujimoto in 1983.

Though the rhythm could be felt from the stage, the group took the audience on a deeper journey, descending from the stage and into the aisles. One by one, members of the audience rose to their feet, marveling at the performers, and getting a closer look at the craftsmanship of the drums. As the performers exited into the lobby, members gave a standing ovation.

As everyone exited Schaeffer, all were surprised, yet again, as San Jose Taiko continued performing in the lobby. Children and adults were each greeted and thanked by the performers for their support, taking pictures and getting autographs for their recently purchased CDs.

San Jose Taiko left a heartwarming impression on all those that attended, giving a rhythm journey that will continue for a lifetime.


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