plant2 Documenting the west coast Nikkei experience [and beyond] from the viewpoint of a hapa Nikkei graphic designer, editor, photographer, taiko player & teacher.

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Chibi Taiko in Onomichi

IMG_2901There was a moment towards the end of the July 25 performance by Chibi Taiko and Onomichi’s Betcha Taiko that will be forever etched in my memory. The two groups were playing a piece together called Ishizue, an original Betcha composition that Chibi members had learned over the course of the past week. Night was falling as the nearly three dozen drummers filled the small public square in Onomichi’s shotengai (shopping district) with a thick wall of sound. The young Chibi drummers were playing with a ferocity and sense of purpose I had never witnessed before. As the piece drew to a conclusion, the drummers swooped low to the ground, their faces glistening with a combination of sweat and exhilaration. I was surprised at the emotion that welled up in me. A lump came to my throat as I watched the members of Chibi Taiko, including my two daughters, give everything they had to a common purpose in the true spirit of taiko. At that one moment, the members of the two groups—who shared a common heritage but little else—emphatically bridged the cultural divide.

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Katari Taiko 30th Anniversary Concert

KT_30Rekishi (Histories)
30 Years of Katari Taiko
Sunday, November 1, 2009, 2pm
The Cultch, 1895 Venables Street
$20 (general) / $15 (students & seniors) / $10 (12yrs & under)
+ service charges
For tickets call The Cultch box office at 604.251.1363 • www.thecultch.com
For info call 604.683.8240

When Katari Taiko celebrates its 30th Anniversary with a concert at the newly refurbished Cultch (formerly the Vancouver East Cultural Centre) on November 1, it will mark three decades of dedication to not only the art of drumming, but the community that gave birth to the group.

Katari Taiko rose out of the burgeoning Asian Canadian movement of the mid-seventies, a time when many younger Japanese and Chinese Canadians were beginning to actively question their identities and to explore their Asian heritage. Tonari Gumi was open for business on Hastings Street; Sakura-so, a home for Japanese Canadian seniors, had opened on Powell Street; the Japanese Canadian Centennial Project had published A Dream of Riches, a photographic history of the community; the Japanese Canadian Centennial in 1977 had given rise to the annual Powell Street Festival.

A performance by San Jose Taiko at the 1979 Powell Street Festival was the catalyst for the formation of Katari Taiko, the first group of its kind in Canada. A Japanese group, Ryujin Daiko, had performed at the inaugural Powell Street Festival and the world-renowned ensemble Ondekoza had performed several times in Vancouver, but they were clearly Japanese in both their approach and aesthetic; while they were to be admired, they seemed somehow out of reach. San Jose Taiko, on the other hand, was something else again. As young Asian Americans, they exuded an energy and exuberance that was both inspiring and accessible. The majority of the group were also women, defying the stereotype of the passive Asian female—something that struck a chord with many in the Japanese Canadian community. Following their performance, the members of SJT actively encouraged the formation of a local group and with that, the taiko seed was officially planted on Canadian soil.

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Katari Taiko 30th Anniversay Concert

Rekishi (Histories) 30 Years of Katari Taiko Sunday, November 1, 2009, 2pm The Cultch, 1895 Venables Street

$20 (general) / $15 (students & seniors) / $10 (12yrs & under) + service charges For tickets call The Cultch box office at 604.251.1363 • www.thecultch.com For info call 604.683.8240

Katari Taiko celebrates its 30th Anniversary with [...]