Big Drum: Taiko in the United States explores the growing phenomenon of taiko (Japanese drum) ensemble performances through the use of several media presentations, historic photographs, artifacts, and even interactive opportunities for the whole family. Group taiko performance only developed in post-war Japan and the United States and Japanese Americans played a major role in its growing popularity. With few models to follow, the original three Nikkei groups in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Jose built their own drums, created their costumes and wrote their own music. The result was the original three groups in 1973 grew to over 250 groups throughout North America today.
Through interviews of key figures, highlights of group performances, and even explanations of the construction of the different drums, Big Drum presents a dynamic experience that unveils the whole process involved in the development of a relatively new performance art. On display will be historic objects, such as early drums made from old wine barrels and furniture tacks, an original yagura used at Senshin Buddhist Temple’s early post-war obons, and a six-foot-in diameter, 450-pound okedo constructed by Victor Fukuhara.
Visitors to the exhibition will also have the opportunity to try taiko for themselves through several interactive elements including small percussive instruments for visitors to shake, rattle, and strike; festival and performance clothing to try on; Sony PlayStation game Taiko: Drum Master™ for visitors to test their game playing skills courtesy of Namco Hometek and RedOctane; and during weekend afternoons, taiko drums will be available for visitors to play on the demonstration platform.
The Boeing Company
City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department
Hisako Nerio Imamura & Akira Imamura
Sumi Nerio Leonard & Robert J. Leonard
National Endowment for the Arts
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California
The James Irvine Foundation
Mitsubishi International Corporation Foundation
Prudential Financial, Inc.
Asian Cultural Council
The Rafu Shimpo
Big Drum travels to Portland, Oregon
Big Drum: Taiko in the United States is being adapted for display at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center (ONLC) in Portland, Oregon, from June 16 to August 27, 2006. Graphic and text panels as well as the exhibition’s media pieces will be included in this display, which will be supplemented with materials curated by ONLC representing Oregon taiko history and groups. The exhibition will open during the Fifth Regional Taiko Gathering, which brings together taiko groups from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia.