What is Taiko?

Traditionally, the Japanese word, “tai-ko” literally means “big-drum”.  Taiko drumming has been used during small town festivals and religious ceremonies at the shrines.

Since the days of the early emperors, the thunderous heartbeat of the taiko has been a beautiful and sacred sound–a sound of laughter, of celebration, of protection, and power. In ancient times, the deep rumble of the drum drove away evil spirits and other malignant forces that would have harmed the village’s valuable crops. During the harvest, the taiko was beaten in a different way–happier, less terrifying–as a joyful proclamation of a bountiful year. In times of drought, the taiko’s thunder would call to the skies to bring clouds and rain. The sounds of the taiko still resounds in modern times. Our village is now global, and instead of crop pests, the drums now seek to drive away forces of hate and dissension that threatens our peace. We harvest a different sort of plenty, that of the love and community that surrounds us. When day-to-day life threatens to rob our lives of joy, the heartbeat of the taiko calls to the heartbeat within ourselves, reminding us of the wonderful gift of this world and our existence.

Taiko performances are very exhilarating, full of dynamic energy, earth shaking and has even been called a spiritual experience. Taiko is entertainment that is enjoyed all over the world. Hikari Taiko combines a strong visual presentation with the powerful sound of its drums.

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History of Hikari Taiko

Hikari Taiko is based at the Southeast Japanese Community Center in Norwalk and was founded in 1978 by Tak Murata. After twelve years, the first group of 12 taiko players was forced to take a break which lasted six years due to noise complaints from the local neighbors.

In 1996, after the community center remodeled their center, Hikari was invited to start taiko classes again. Under the artistic direction of Mary Jane and Glen Mayeda, a new beginning of taiko was born again. What was meant to start out as a small and for fun taiko class emerged into an enthusiastic performing group of 15 individuals and 3 non-performing classes. We do an average of 40 performances per year. Our group is comprised of all ages, professions and ethnic backgrounds.

Our goal is to promote a strong awareness of the Japanese-American culture through the traditional art form of taiko drumming. We utilize our energy in creating our own dynamic expression, along with the powerful heartbeat of taiko. We are interested in reaching out to communities for wellness programs, workshops and cultural education to children.

Lastly, we hope our drumming touches your heart as it does ours. This is a group performance, so the hearts of all the performers must be united to create such a sound.