Taiko literally means 'big drum' in Japanese.
Taiko drumming has been an important part of Japanese culture for hundreds of years. Its origins lie in the many temples and shrines throughout Japan where they are played during ceremonies and festivals. Throughout history taiko drums have also been used in kabuki and noh theatre, dance and music. It is only since the 1950s that taiko has become a performing art in itself known as 'kumi daiko', and spread throughout the world with the help of professional touring groups like Ondekoza and Kodo. Japan currently has between 10,000 - 15,000 taiko groups playing many different styles.
Taiko performances use different styles and sizes of Japanese drum (wadaiko). These can also be played in many different positions and ways. Playing taiko isn't just about hitting a drum to make a sound, it involves body movement, balance, energy, stamina, co-ordination, self control, self awareness and unites mind, body and spirit akin to many martial arts.
Playing in a taiko group is an exhilarating experience, and one you won't forget! The sheer energy created is immense.
Here are a couple of episodes from the 'Begin Japanology' series, which give an insight into the history of Taiko drumming.