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Differences between Kinnara and San Francisco Taiko Dojo

When I saw Kinnara, it was obvious to me that these were JAs playing. But, I could still really relate to that. I still really wanted to be involved and really enjoyed it. Kinnara, what I enjoyed about Kinnara was the camaraderie because always, you know, Reverend Mas’s philosophy is that nobody’s too good or nobody’s too bad to be in the group. Everybody has to contribute. I think that’s a great way of looking at it. It’s one way of looking at it, but it’s also a really great way to build that teamwork. So, I think that’s one thing I learned there of just being able to hang out with everybody was great for me.

When I went to San Francisco Taiko Dojo, it was a totally different thing. Tanaka Sensei’s upbringing—of course he grew up in Japan, but he also had very…his experience is with martial arts, with his baseball. So he really knew how to run a dojo, and he was running it almost like a martial arts dojo at that time. I didn’t come and I came probably in the second wave of students that he had. He started in 1968, and I started in ’75. So, I think over the years, he’s gradually mellowed.

But at that time when I was there, he was still pretty hardcore. We would have to run, and we would have to sweat, we would have…you know. There was a lot of pain. He always said, “No pain, no gain.” That’s one of his…(laugh), one of his… But I mean, all that, there’s something about that in Japanese culture of being in that kind situation. It builds your character in that the weak people just end up quitting. So, it really tests you.


California drum Kinnara Taiko San Francisco San Francisco Taiko Dojo taiko United States

Date: March 11, 2005

Location: Hawai`i, US

Interviewer: Sojin Kim, Arnoldo Hiura

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

Interviewee Bio

Kenny Endo, internationally renowned master drummer and artistic director of the Taiko Center of the Pacific (Oahu, HI), was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. His earliest musical experiences involved playing western drums and percussion in jazz, fusion, and rock and roll bands. After his introduction to kumidaiko in 1975, he studied and performed with Kinnara Taiko of Los Angeles and San Francisco Taiko Dojo.

In 1980, he traveled to Japan, where he spent ten years studying with masters in Sukeroku, Suwa, Gojinjo, and Chichibu drumming styles. He was the first non-Japanese national to ever receive a 'natori' (stage name) in Hogaku Hayashi (Japanese classical drumming). He continues to teach and perform internationally, working with musicians in various genres. (March 11, 2005)

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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Etsuo Hongo
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Etsuo Hongo

The reason he came to the United States (Japanese)

(1949 - 2019) Taiko player. Founded five taiko groups in Southern California

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Etsuo Hongo
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Etsuo Hongo

First taiko performance in the United States (Japanese)

(1949 - 2019) Taiko player. Founded five taiko groups in Southern California

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Etsuo Hongo
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Etsuo Hongo

Differences in taiko style (Japanese)

(1949 - 2019) Taiko player. Founded five taiko groups in Southern California

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Etsuo Hongo
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Etsuo Hongo

Originality of each taiko group (Japanese)

(1949 - 2019) Taiko player. Founded five taiko groups in Southern California

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Etsuo Hongo
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Etsuo Hongo

Benefits of living in the United States (Japanese)

(1949 - 2019) Taiko player. Founded five taiko groups in Southern California

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Etsuo Hongo
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Etsuo Hongo

Promoting group identity through taiko contests (Japanese)

(1949 - 2019) Taiko player. Founded five taiko groups in Southern California

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Etsuo Hongo
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Etsuo Hongo

Taiko's sounds as Japanese cultural tradition (Japanese)

(1949 - 2019) Taiko player. Founded five taiko groups in Southern California

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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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