Taiko- The Japanese Drums

Taiko is a Japanese drum, it has many mythological origins in many Japanese stories. let's discover more about it.

Taiko is a type of percussion instrument in Japan. Actually the name taiko refers to Japanese drums. Wadaiko is the other name for any type of taiko drum, outside the japan. Set of drums assembled at one place specifically called Kumi-daiko, which is practised not only in Japan but also in the USA, Australia, Canada, Europe, Taiwan and Brazil. The process of manufacturing of taiko varies from one to another, it takes years to prepare both the drum body and skin for a manufacturer depending upon the method they use.

In the early 6th century CE japan adopted Taiko from Korea and China, according to the archaeological evidence. Even some taiko is similar to the instruments in India. Mostly these taikos were played in religious ceremonies, military actions, theatres as a part of festivals and entertainment. The minorities around the japan were also playing taiko in their social movements. Many groups use taiko along with other instruments like vocals and other strings instruments.

The origin of this instrument doesn’t have any solid proof but some historical evidence say during 588 CE a young man from had travelled to Korea to learn kakko, a drum originated from southern China. From this study historians assuming that taiko emerged from China and South Korea. Especially some instruments like gigaku and gagaku had arrived in japan from china and Korea. The artists were accompanied by different instruments which also includes drums nearer to taiko as a part of their traditions.

 Japan was influenced to use drums from China and India, in their togaku dance and also in gagaku performance. The haniwa statues found in sawa district of Gunma prefecture in which two of statues depicted playing the drums with a stick worn on the shoulder and the drum barrel lying at the hip which is also the oldest evidence of taiko in Japan. The same type of format can be seen in Korea and China in playing the drums was also a reason that influenced japan. Historians believe elderly goddess ame-no-uzume who had done furious performance on an empty barrel, to beckon Amaterasu when sealed herself in a cave out of anger. Ame-no-uzume accomplished the task while others failed to do and that dance on the barrel made historians believe the creation of taiko music.

Taiko was also used to march, do parade and to pass commands to the soldiers in Warfield. Certain rhythms were used for different moves of the warriors during the time of feudal japan.

Taiko not only resembles the instruments but also the performance, particularly to the Kumi diako. In 1951 a legend player of taiko, Daihachi Oguchi helped to set the taiko performance during traditional festivals. Basically Oguchi was a trained jazz musician and had given rhythms on a piece of sheet by one of his relatives. He had no idea on a script written, with the help of transcriber he added rhythms on his own and let his work on different sized drums by taiko players. Each instrument sounded different which become conventions in Kumi daiko, at present approximately there are 5000 active taiko groups in japan but based on Nippon taiko foundation, the number comes closer to 800, who has membership in it.