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Taiko's sounds as Japanese cultural tradition (Japanese)

(Japanese) I am not too sure that the taiko we play is traditional (authentic). Perhaps, it is not really traditional, you know. This started about 50 years ago as a form of Kumi-daiko and there were all kinds of explanations attached to the playing. Some would say it started 300 years ago and others would day 500 years ago. Even so, I don’t think any group has really preserved the traditional sound. And, you know, it is only in the last 50 years that taiko playing has become popular. What do they mean when they say keeping the tradition? Is it the sound, or what? I suppose it’s the sound. Taiko can bring out lots of emotion and empathy to those who are listening. I guess that’s all that counts, you know.


drum music taiko

Date: April 1, 2005

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Ann Kaneko

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum.

Interviewee Bio

Etsuo Hongo, a shin-issei, was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. He began his taiko training there, and was exposed to the idea of taiko in the United States when he read a 1968 Japanese newspaper article about San Francisco Taiko Dojo. Almost immediately after he came to the United States in 1973, he searched out a place to play taiko. He attended the Long Beach Buddhist Temple obon, where he was given his first opportunity to play taiko in this country. Shortly thereafter, he traveled to South America, where he spent the subsequent year visiting various Nikkei communities and continuing to play taiko in local festivals.

After his travels in South America, Mr. Hongo decided to return to the United States where he started his gardening business. In 1977, he established Los Angeles Matsuri Taiko. He now has five groups—totaling some 100 students. The other four groups are L.A. Mugen Taiko (est. 1988), Venice Koshin Taiko (est. 1992), L.A. Taiko Okida Gumi (est. 1996), and El Marino Rainbow Taiko, an elementary school program for 2nd through 5th graders. He passed away on October 28, 2019 at age 70. (June 2021)

Kazuo Funai
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Kazuo Funai

Buying violin (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Understanding Sansei taiko (Japanese)

(b.1943) Shin-issei grand master of taiko; founded San Francisco Taiko Dojo in 1968.

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Soukou Bayashi: Dedicated to the Issei (Japanese)

(b.1943) Shin-issei grand master of taiko; founded San Francisco Taiko Dojo in 1968.

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Handmade taiko (Japanese)

(b.1943) Shin-issei grand master of taiko; founded San Francisco Taiko Dojo in 1968.

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Taiko philosophy (Japanese)

(b.1943) Shin-issei grand master of taiko; founded San Francisco Taiko Dojo in 1968.

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Nosuke Akiyama
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Nosuke Akiyama

Rediscovery of Japanese culture through taiko (Japanese)

Shishimai (Lion dance) and Taiko player with San Francisco Taiko Dojo.

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Kenny Endo
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Kenny Endo

Differences between Kinnara and San Francisco Taiko Dojo

(b.1952) Master drummer, artistic director of the Taiko Center of the Pacific

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Kenny Endo
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Kenny Endo

Being free of the tradition

(b.1952) Master drummer, artistic director of the Taiko Center of the Pacific

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Kenny Endo
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Kenny Endo

Collaborating with non-taiko groups

(b.1952) Master drummer, artistic director of the Taiko Center of the Pacific

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Lack of taiko at Cherry Blossom Festival

(b.1943) Shin-issei grand master of taiko; founded San Francisco Taiko Dojo in 1968.

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Reasons for starting taiko in America

(b.1943) Shin-issei grand master of taiko; founded San Francisco Taiko Dojo in 1968.

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Meeting Kinnara Taiko

(b.1943) Shin-issei grand master of taiko; founded San Francisco Taiko Dojo in 1968.

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Happi coats in taiko

(b.1943) Shin-issei grand master of taiko; founded San Francisco Taiko Dojo in 1968.

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Tire Dojo

(b.1943) Shin-issei grand master of taiko; founded San Francisco Taiko Dojo in 1968.

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Traditional taiko style

(b.1943) Shin-issei grand master of taiko; founded San Francisco Taiko Dojo in 1968.

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