Japanese Taiko Drumming
For centuries, the ponderous boom of taiko drums rumbled across Japan’s fields and towns in times of war, signaling battle commands. These traditional instruments have also ushered in religious festivals, sometimes symbolizing the voice of Buddha. They've reverberated sonorously in temples, shrines and courts and brought drama and gravitas to noh and kabuki performances.
On March 7, students heard—and felt—the heart-quickening beats of these drums when Kyo Daiko, a Japanese-drumming ensemble, presented a vigorous and interactive performance in the Holland Union Building.
The Philadelphia-based group introduced students to ancient taiko drumming, which is thought to have come to Japan from China more than 1,000 years ago. Students also learned about kumi daiko, a modern style of drumming that originated in the 1950s, when jazz-drummer Daihachi Oguchi created the first taiko ensemble that featured drums of different sizes and pitches. "We were interested in a Taiko group because they often can get everyone involved and are a lot of fun," says assistant professor of East-Asian studies, who booked the group for the event.
The performance marked the finale of the first Japan Festival hosted by Dickinson. Thirty students and faculty members from Dickinson College and Franklin & Marshall College presented speeches and skits about Japanese culture; the daylong celebration also featured Japanese snacks and parapara dance lessons.
"We wanted to our students to meet other students learning Japanese to facilitate their learning," says Akiko Megura, lecturer in Japanese, who co-organized the event. "We plan to continue this event every year."
Photos by A. Pierce Bounds '71
Story by MaryAlice Bitts