What is Taiko?

"Taiko" is a Japanese word for drum. It can also refer to the modern style of kumi-daiko, in which multiple performers play different varieties of drums in an ensemble. 

The art of taiko carries deep significance in Japanese culture. Japanese mythology begins with the legend of Amaterasu Omikami, a Sun Goddess who, overwhelmed by her curiosity about an unusual dance to the beat of taiko, emerged form a cave to illuminate the world. Samurai warriors also used taiko on the battlefield to signal commands and frighten their enemies. Townspeople warned of danger by beating on taiko, and priests used taiko at religious ceremonies to communicate with the gods. Temples and shrines throughout Japan display taiko as a symbol of purification and to dispel evil spirits. Until recently, only priests and males of high stature were allowed to strike the sacred taiko. 

Around 1950, Daihachi Oguchi, drawing on his background as a jazz musician, put together the first ensemble of taiko of different shapes and sizes to be played by a group of drummers. People loved the high-energy performances, and the style spread. Today there are thousands of taiko groups around the world. 

About Kaminari Taiko

Kaminari Taiko was founded in 1996 by Jay Mochizuki along with a number of talented musicians from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. The members diligently trained under world-acclaimed taiko masters, including Daihachi Oguchi, Seiichi Tanaka, Kenny Endo, and Takemasa Ishikura to learn the fundamental skills, philosophy and the spirit of this centuries-old Japanese tradition. 

During the past eighteen years, Kaminari has toured to over 20 cities, performed hundreds of concerts for live audiences exceeding 150,000, and developed into a prominent performing taiko group. 

In addition to stage performances at theaters, festivals, and other cultural celebrations, Kaminari performers continually refine their skills through training at their own dojo (studio) and provide weekly taiko lessons for students at all levels, plus an elementary school after-school program and workshops for groups in our community.

Kaminari's public awareness/support programs have been recognized by many organizations, including the Consulate General of Japan in Houston, the City of Houston, Camp for All, the Japan America Society, the Asia Society, the Japan Business Association of Houston, and the Houston Independent School District.

Kaminari's unique style of dynamic taiko performance is inspired by the traditional values of Japanese art and propulsive, toe-tapping world beats. The group's high-energy shows are powered by an arsenal of over 30 professional-quality taiko. Kaminari Taiko enjoys sharing the spirit of taiko with audiences throughout Texas and beyond.