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https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/548/

Appreciating Kinnara Taiko's approach to taiko

I was really amazed at how seriously taiko is taken. I mean it’s life-transforming. It changes your life. It’s a religion. It’s a full-blown religion and some groups have even said that. “Taiko is my religion”. That kind of shocked me. I said, “It’s just a nail keg with a skin over it. You don’t worship a taiko. Come on!” So that was kind of shocking when I first saw it, which made me appreciate Kinnara. It’s just another thing, that’s all.

That’s why I don’t like to do interviews anymore because it’s always, you know, “the father of taiko”. That’s a bit much, you know. Or “taiko masters”. What the heck is a taiko master? So it’s that kind of thing. It’s given me a real appreciation of our group here and how to try to maintain that against all odds, how to maintain that. It’s just a way of discovering how this is and, by seeing that, being well and being more open to the other people in the group.


arts drum Kinnara Taiko music taiko

Date: December 3, 2004

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Art Hansen, Sojin Kim

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

Interviewee Bio

Rev. Masao Kodani is a Sansei minister of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism and co-founder of Kinnara Taiko - the second taiko group established in the United States and the first Japanese American Buddhist group. Born in Glendale, California, Rev. Kodani was a young child when he and his family were incarcerated at Poston Relocation Center in Arizona during WWII. After his family's return toLos Angeles, they lived in a predominantly African American community near the neighborhood of Watts. Although they were Buddhist, his parents sent their children to Evergreen Baptist Church in East L.A. because they thought it would be easier for them to fit in. After graduating from Centennial High School, Reverend Kodani attended the University of California at Santa Barbara where he earned his degree in East Asian Studies. While at UC Santa Barbara, he became close with Reverend Art Takemoto of Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple. Through Rev. Takemoto’s influence, Kodani traveled to Japanto study Buddhism at Ryukoku University. After his studies were completed, he returned to the United States and was assigned to the Senshin Buddhist Temple in South Central Los Angeles. In 1969, he established Kinnara Taiko with members of the temple as a Japanese American Buddhist ensemble with the objective of enjoying the Buddha-Dharma (Horaku)through the experience. Their composition, "Ashura" has become one of the most learned adapted pieces in the American taiko repertory. (December 3, 2004)

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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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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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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