Taiko Boom

Taiko Boom: Japanese Drumming in Place and Motion

Shawn Bender
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 280
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1ppx45
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Taiko Boom
    Book Description:

    With its thunderous sounds and dazzling choreography, Japanese taiko drumming has captivated audiences in Japan and across the world, making it one of the most successful performing arts to emerge from Japan in the past century. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted among taiko groups in Japan,Taiko Boomexplores the origins of taiko in the early postwar period and its popularization over the following decades of rapid economic growth in Japan's cities and countryside. Building on the insights of globalization studies, the book argues that taiko developed within and has come to express new forms of communal association in a Japan increasingly engaged with global cultural flows. While its popularity has created new opportunities for Japanese to participate in community life, this study also reveals how the discourses and practices of taiko drummers dramatize tensions inherent in Japanese conceptions of race, the body, gender, authenticity, and locality.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95143-3
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. NOTE ON TRANSLATION, JAPANESE NAMES, AND ROMANIZATION
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    I have seen Kodo perform “Monochrome” countless times, but it never fails to move me as viscerally as it did that summer day. A troupe of drummers and dancers, Kodo established a performance base on Sado Island in the late 1960s. (At the time they performed under the name Ondekoza.)¹ Led by their charismatic founder, the troupe sought to breathe new life into Japan’s folk performing arts by converting folk motifs into dynamic stage performances. They quickly came to be distinguished as much for the intensity of their training regimen as for the impact of their drumming: their American debut...

  7. PART ONE THE EMERGENCE AND POPULARIZATION OF TAIKO

    • ONE Taiko Drums and Taiko Drum Makers
      (pp. 25-47)

      For most japanese,taikosimply means “drum.” In this book, the term is used in a more technical sense to signify a subset of Japanese percussion. Japanese drums are typically differentiated based on their size, shape, and material composition.¹ Drum shells hollowed out from blocks of wood are classified differently from drum bodies made up of individual wooden slats, like a wine barrel. Drums also differ based on the kind of dried animal skin used for playing surfaces and the methods of attaching skins to the drum body, either by ropes, tacks, or bolts. Drums also are sounded in distinct...

    • TWO Genealogies of Taiko I: OSUWA DAIKO, SUKEROKU DAIKO, ONDEKOZA
      (pp. 48-72)

      The character of contemporary japanese taiko has been most profoundly shaped by four ensemble groups: Osuwa Daiko, Sukeroku Daiko, Ondekoza, and Kodo. These are not the only influential groups, as regional drum styles have been widely adopted across Japan as well. But only after these four groups started to popularize a new ensemble form of Japanese drumming did rhythmic motifs found in particular folk performances attract broad interest. These innovations remain in the ensembles’ performance style, aesthetic sensibility, and repertoire, as well as in those of the groups they have influenced. While these elements permeate contemporary taiko to the extent...

    • THREE Genealogies of Taiko II: ONDEKOZA TO KODO
      (pp. 73-104)

      Given the originality of ondekoza’s repertoire and the influence the group has had on taiko ensembles throughout the world, it is worth analyzing in detail how three of its most emulated pieces were created. The analysis of these three pieces demonstrates how Ondekoza put into motion regional culture in the process of preparing a repertoire to take around the world. In some cases, inheritors of the folk performing arts were able to visit Ondekoza in Sado to instruct the group in their local performing art. This was the case for Shimomura Keiichi, who taught the group thehi no taiko...

    • FOUR Placing Ensemble Taiko in Japan: FESTIVAL CREATION AND THE TAIKO BOOM
      (pp. 105-116)

      Osuwa daiko, sukeroku daiko, ondekoza, and kodo represent the main stylistic variants of ensemble taiko performance, but they do not encompass the larger cultural phenomenon it has become. Since these groups first cleared out a space for ensemble taiko groups in Japan, the number of taiko groups has risen into the thousands. Social, religious, and demographic factors have all contributed to the proliferation of taiko ensembles, but three related factors are of central importance: first, the increasingly democratic nature of participation in community festivals in Japan; second, the decline in vitality of older shrine-based festivals; and third, the creation of...

  8. PART TWO DISCOURSES OF CONTEMPORARY TAIKO

    • FIVE (Dis)Locating Drumming: TAIKO TRAINING, EMBODIMENT, AND THE AESTHETICS OF RACE AND PLACE
      (pp. 119-141)

      On September 27, 1945, the Japanese emperor Hirohito and the American general Douglas MacArthur posed for a picture before meeting for the first time to discuss the American occupation of Japan. The photograph, which was splashed on the front page of newspapers throughout Japan the following day, has since achieved fame as a representation of the political relationship between the two countries following the defeat of Japan. General MacArthur, who appears relaxed, resting his hands on hips that rise to the height of his former enemy’s chest, towers over the diminutive Hirohito, who is dressed formally and stands rigidly beside...

    • SIX Woman Unbound? BODY AND GENDER IN JAPANESE TAIKO
      (pp. 142-169)

      On September 22, 1999, the National Theatre of Japan hosted the first night of an annual taiko concert series called “Taiko of Japan” (Nihon no Taiko). Since it began in 1977, the “Taiko of Japan” series has showcased professional taiko ensembles and a wide variety of local festival groups from various regions in Japan. The length of its run, along with its base at the National Theatre, the home of Japan’s classical performing arts establishment, has helped “Taiko of Japan” legitimate ensemble taiko as a new genre within Japanese performing arts. On this particular day, the series drew attention to...

    • SEVEN The Sound of Militarism? NEW TEXTS, OLD NATIONALISM, AND THE DISEMBODIMENT OF TAIKO TECHNIQUE
      (pp. 170-189)

      During ensemble taiko’s relatively short history in Japan, few taiko drummers have seen much in common between their activities and those of other taiko groups. Many of the drummers with whom I spoke even questioned the degree to which ensemble taiko could be considered a cohesive “genre.” The identification of local groups with local communities, and the discourse of localism that both constitutes and reflects it, has yielded an assortment of taiko groups organized vertically along lines of descent from an original progenitor (or set of progenitors) rather than horizontally through feelings of solidarity with other drum groups.

      While the...

  9. Epilogue: TAIKO AT HOME AND ABROAD
    (pp. 190-202)

    I have heard it said that, at some point in their training, medical students feel erroneously that they have come down with one or more of the rare illnesses they spend so much time studying. This propensity to see what you study emerge from the pages and, against all probability, appear suddenly in your everyday life is, I think, hardly limited to students of medicine. At some point, anyone who has invested countless hours researching and thinking about a subject is bound to see it pop up in unexpected places. Usually these experiences are illusory. Sometimes they are not.

    On...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 203-226)
  11. REFERENCES
    (pp. 227-240)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 241-259)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 260-262)