Formed in 1980, Seattle's oldest taiko drumming group continues to break stereotypes.
By Rosin Saez
September 30, 2016
Taiko drumming, an age-old art from Japan, started in Seattle as a means of cultural expression. Japanese Americans, who for the most part kept to themselves and were a quiet community on the whole, wanted to have a louder voice, or in the case, a booming sound. Taiko, which means “drums” in Japanese, was a way to connect to their cultural history. No longer abiding the stereotype of being too reserved, taiko became an artful, rhythmic, and certainly louder way to express themselves and their Japanese heritage.
“In the late ’60s and early ’70s, it was a time of great social and political upheaval, awakening, and consciousness,” Stanley Shikuma tells The International Examiner. Shikuma, a Board Member and teacher of the oldest taiko group in Seattle, Seattle Kokon Taiko, continues: “Asian American studies were just getting started because of demand from the community and students wanted their histories to be part of the curriculum. The early people that started these taiko groups were also involved in these types of things.”
Now, after 35 years of performing, Seattle Kokon Taiko is putting on an anniversary concert called Rhythm, Movement, and Spirit on October 1st at 6:30pm the Shorewood Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $25, or $15 for youth, and proceeds of course go towards this performance group and hopefully another 35 years of taiko!